NCCR PlanetS director Willy Benz with a CHEOPS mock-up. (Photo Alessandro Della Bella)
On October 8, our colleagues Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star. Together with James Peebles, they were honoured for changing our conceptions of the world.
Changing our conceptions of the world, nothing less. The dream of all scientists. Not just leaving footprints along a well-travelled path but opening a route from which new perspectives can emerge. They succeeded and have been recognized for it with the highest distinction a scientist can dream of. Congratulations.
We are very proud because both are old time friends and have been associated with PlanetS from the beginning. Michel Mayor (my thesis advisor who taught me what research is) has been a member of our Advisory Committee together with Brian Schmidt (the 2011 Nobel Laureate in physics) and, since last year, Catherine Cesarsky. With Didier Queloz, we came-up with the concept of the CHEOPS mission in an earlier unsuccessful attempt to obtain an NCCR. CHEOPS was nevertheless selected by ESA in 2012 and Didier naturally became the chair of its science team. Without their discovery, PlanetS would not exist, with their help and advice, PlanetS grew to become one of the lead research organisation in this field of science.
The quest for instrumental precision is what drove Michel and Didier to their remarkable discovery and guided their subsequent work. Perhaps their most important legacy is to have made this pursuit a second nature to PlanetS. Thank you to both.
We hope you will enjoy reading this edition of The Observer and cross your fingers with us when CHEOPS will be launched in mid-December!
With best wishes,
Willy BenzDirector, NCCR PlanetS