Hack an Exoplanet Guide for Educators

Brief description:

In this activity, students will characterise two exoplanets by analysing data acquired by ESA’s Cheops satellite. Students will work as real scientists and fit a model to the data to retrieve the best fit parameters.

The activity can be completed using a guided format or in a project-based learning format, for example in a hackathon. The teacher guide presents both options.

The activities are complemented with video explanations prepared by exoplanet experts:
  • Introduction to Hack an Exoplanet – become an exoplanet detective
  • Allesfitter mini tutorial – step-by-step guide on how to fit the best model to the data
  • How to determine the size of an exoplanet
  • The orbital period and distance of an exoplanet, using Kepler’s Third Law
  • Could exoplanets be habitable?
  • What are exoplanets made of?

Teams can submit their project to receive a participation certificate. To submit your project visit

Subject: Science, Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy


Learning Objectives:

  • Work scientifically with real satellite data.
  • Apply mathematical data analysis techniques by fitting a model to real data.
  • Learn about Kepler’s Third Law and orbital mechanics.
  • Understand what an exoplanet transit is.
  • Build teamworking skills under a time constraint.

Age range:
14 – 19 years old

  • Challenges and Allesfitter Guide printed for each group
  • Pen/pencil
  • Computer (alternative suggested if not possible)

Preparation: 1 hour
Lesson: 90 minutes

Resource available in:
English, Czech, Danish*, Dutch, Estonian*, Finnish*, French*, German, Greek, Hungarian*, Italian*, Latvian*, Lithuanian*, Norwegian, Polish*, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak*, Slovenian*, Spanish, and Swedish.

(*Resource has been autotranslated)

Challenge 1: Analysis of KELT-3b data

The first challenge is the analysis of the transit light curve of the giant exoplanet KELT-3b. By following the instructions in the supporting material and/or following the information in the instructional videos, the students will be able to derive the properties of KELT-3b.

Challenge 2: Analysis of TOI-560c data

After completing the analysis of KELT-3b the teams should be able to able to follow the same analysis process to TOI-560c data. Teams can submit their project  to receive a participation certificate. To submit your project visit

Best Project Prize

For a chance to win the Best Project Prize teams should submit their scientific report about TOI-560c.

Your team’s submission should include your analysis of the Cheops data of TOI-560c, and it should follow the format of a scientific paper including an abstract, analysis and results, and conclusions.

The winning teams will receive ESA goodies, as well as the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Physics Nobel Laureate Didier Queloz, on 17 July 2023. Deadline for submission is 29 June 2023.

To submit your project, click here.

Journal template showing Abstract, Analysis and Results, and Conclusion suggested headings.

Hack an Exoplanet: information for educators

Your students can now become exoplanet detectives by analysing data from ESA’s Cheops satellite to profile two mysterious exoplanets. Follow this video for more information about the challenge and the materials available. 

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