4. Ariel Exoplanet Mission Science Planning.


ESA supervisor: Tim Rawle
Collaborator(s): Catarina Alves De Oliveira, Stephan Birkmann

Site: ESAC

Ariel is an upcoming ESA exoplanet mission (launching 2029), designed to perform a large (>1000) diverse survey of planetary atmospheres. The telescope will observe each target during transits and eclipses by the host star, allowing the recovery of faint signal from the planetary atmosphere from amongst the much stronger starlight. High signal-to-noise will be ensured through repeat observations for all planets during the nominal four year mission, each executed at the precise time of the transit or eclipse event.

Science planning for such a tightly constrained mission schedule is one of the most important and complicated tasks of the ESA Ariel Science Operations Centre (SOC) at ESAC. Fortunately, the Long Term Planning Tool for Ariel is already being developed, and this Trainee project focusses on exercising that tool under a range of potential mission scenarios. The goal is to explore the tool to ensure it is capable of effectively planning and replanning the mission timeline regardless of post-launch developments including, but not limited to, the injection of new high priority targets into the parent sample, extended operational downtime, or instrument anomalies leading to degraded data products. After familiarisation with the planning concept, the selected Trainee is free to investigate which scenarios are most critical for a realistic stress-test of the tool, and will have the opportunity to present their results to appropriate stakeholders. As well as providing Ariel with an independent verification of a critical tool, this project will offer the Trainee insight into the workings of ESA science operations.

Project duration: 6 months.

Desirable expertise or programming language:

Some experience with command line computing (e.g. terminal, Unix) and a scripting language (e.g. python) is beneficial.


To apply for this project please fill in an online application form through the following link.