A satellite by the name of Cheops, an acronym for Characterizing
Exoplanets Satellite, is currently in the works by the European Space Agency to search for Earthlike planets and, possibily, otherworldly entities.
Expected to launch in 2017, this ESA satellite will be surveying
solar systems for planets with life-harboring atmospheres by scanning signatures that would indicate a hospitable environment.
Cheops is soon to be one of the first and only satellites of its
kind; maintaing a host of capabilities, Cheops' primary functions revolve around targeting solar systems
for exoplanets, differentiating these planets as terrestrial or gas giants, and actively identifying key atmospheric conditions for potential life.
The current initiative has been spearheaded by a partnership between
ESA, Switzerland, and the contributions of other member states as an effort to manufacteur rapidly developed, low cost, small scale missions into space. Cheops, floating in orbit 500
miles over the Earths surface, will be scouring the over 840 exoplanets that we
already know about for extraterrestrial, life-affirming qualities.
The SETI team is
soon to have a new friend on the scene in humanity's quest to resolve the age-old
question: are we alone in this universe?