Exoplanet researchers are looking forward to the world's first commercial astronomy mission, called Twinkle, as it takes steps toward launch in 2024 by securing funding to start building the satellite early next year.
According to space, when Marcel Tessini, a postdoctoral researcher at University College London, brought up the idea of developing the world's first commercial astronomy mission years ago, he knew he would have to overcome a lot of resistance. For decades, government-funded space agencies like NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have been responsible for expensive space telescope projects that took decades to develop and cost billions of dollars.
The Twinkle Exoplanet Observation Program has now received support from more than 10 universities around the world, has received funding from the European Space Agency (ESA), and will soon be established by the European aviation giant Airbus.
Tessini said, My Ph.D. was about understanding the technical requirements needed for satellites to be able to observe the atmospheres of exoplanets in a comprehensive way so that we can begin to build a real understanding of what these planets are made of. At the time, there were only a few measurements made by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, but there were all kinds of limitations in the data because these satellites were not built to do exoplanet observations. Hubble can take spectroscopic measurements, which split light into different colors when looking at distant targets. This tells us something about the different types of chemical compounds in the atmosphere of exoplanets, but Hubble can only do this for a limited range of wavelengths, so there is always uncertainty... We don't know for sure what to look for.
Hence the astronomer adopted this idea to make more space for astronomers in this field, but the scientific community was initially reluctant to adopt the idea of Twinkle, the world's first privately funded astronomical mission based on the new space spirit of rapid development and low cost, So the idea took years to receive proper funding.