The Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL) is one of the three candidate missions selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium-class science mission due for launch in 2026. The goal of the ARIEL mission is to investigate the atmospheres of several hundred planets orbiting distant stars in order to address the fundamental questions on how planetary systems form and evolve.
During its four (with a potential extension to six) years mission ARIEL will observe 500+ exoplanets in the visible and the infrared with its meter-class telescope in L2. ARIEL targets will include gaseous and rocky planets down to the Earth-size around different types of stars. The main focus of the mission will be on hot and warm planets orbiting close to their star, as they represent a natural laboratory in which to study the chemistry and formation of exoplanets.
The ARIEL mission concept has been developed by a consortium of more than 50 institutes from 12 countries, which include UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Portugal. The analysis of the ARIEL spectra and photometric data in the 0.5-7.8 micron range will allow to extract the chemical fingerprints of gases and condensates in the planets’ atmospheres, including the elemental composition for the most favorable targets. It will also enable the study of thermal and scattering properties of the atmosphere as the planet orbit around the star.
ARIEL will have an open data policy, enabling rapid access by the general community to the high-quality exoplanet spectra that the core survey will deliver.