The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL / Birkbeck


Twinkle: A UK-led, fast-track space mission to study exoplanet atmospheres

6 February 2015

A team led by CPS members Dr Giovanna Tinetti (Lead Scientist) and Dr Marcell Tessenyi (Project Manager) aims to build and launch, within the next 3 to 4 years, a small and cost-effective UK-built spacecraft called Twinkle, dedicated to the observation of exoplanet atmospheres.

Twinkle Mission

This ambitious project is achievable by working together with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and reusing an existing platform. 

The planets observable with Twinkle will span a range of masses, stellar companions and temperatures. Twinkle will investigate their composition and chemical/physical properties through repeated, simultaneous, multi-wavelength spectroscopic observations.

The first Twinkle Community Workshop, taking place today at the Royal Astronomical Society, will provide an overview of the Twinkle science case and the Twinkle instrument design, and will feature discussions outlining the possibilities for contributions.

A number of UK universities are already on board, but the team is still looking for funding. It is planned that fundraising will be from a variety of sources including Government funding, philanthropy, public-private partnership, crowdfunding, telescope time and sponsorship.

Please sign-up at the Twinkle website to keep track of the project progress. You can also follow #twinkleuk for updates on Twitter.



  • A rendering of the Twinkle mission spacecraft, which will be built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

  • Artist's impression of a hot Neptune-sized planet orbiting a star beyond our sun. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech