Slovenian wins contest for exoplanet rocket sticker

Brussels, 4 April - A rocket of the European Space Agency (ESA) that will study the formation of extrasolar planets as part of the Cheops mission will carry a sticker designed by a 25-year-old Slovenian from Celje, the European Commission announced on Wednesday.

The design will be placed, together with the ESA's and other logos, on the Soyuz rocket's fairing, the tough outer shell that protects the satellite during launch and as it passes through the atmosphere into space.

The rocket is expected to be launch-ready by the end of 2018.

The colourful design by Denis Vrenko, a graphic designer and final-year architecture student at the University of Ljubljana, was picked among more than 300 entries submitted for the competition.

The jury said Vrenko's design captured the "scientific essence of the mission in a simple but clear and eye-catching way, and with an emphasis on graphic design as intended".

Vrenko said he had been inspired by the "images of Venus transiting the Sun and many other simulated silhouettes of different planets discovered by scientific missions using transit photometry such as NASA's Kepler mission".

"As Cheops is using similar methods, the design represents silhouettes of planets transiting different stars and resembles visual representation of how these planets are detected."

Guest jury member Joost Grootens, head of the Information Design master's studies at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, said the winning entry had a "very rich concept and bold colours, which would stand out on the rocket when printed full size".

"Like any great design it is both simple and complex," he said.

Vrenko has been invited to attend the main Cheops launch event in Europe as a guest of the ESA to watch his design climb skywards.