Planet explorer launched

A French-made spacecraft has lifted off from Kzakhstan in search of Earth-like planets.

    Corot is due to study the inner structures of stars and discover rocky planets [CNES]

    Corot, part of the French National Space Agency (CNES) Proteus mini-satellite series, will detect planets in other solar systems, called extrasolar planets, by monitoring the changes in a star's brightness that comes from a planet crossing in front of it.


    The satellite's secondary objective is to probe into previously inaccessable stellar interiors and study the physics of stars.

    Star interiors


    Equipped with a 27cm in diameter afocal telescope and a 4-CCD

    camera, Corot will be placed on a circular, polar orbit, so that it may make continuous observations of two regions in the sky for about 150 days at a time.


    The satellite will then rotate by 180 degrees and start observing the next region.


    Corot will be able to detect 'starquakes' -
    acoustic waves generated inside a star [CNES]

    From its name, "convection and rotation" refers to the satellite's ability to probe the inner structures of stars, studying "starquakes", acoustic waves that ripple across stars' surfaces, via a method called stellar seismology.


    The word "transit" refers to the technique of determining a planet's presence in orbit around a star based on the changes in starlight caused when a planet passes in front of it.


    Corot will monitor some 120,000 stars on its two and a half year mission.


    International effort


    Led by CNES, Corat is a collaborative effort with international partners, including French laboratories (CNRS), the European Space Agency (ESA), and organisations in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Brazil.


    Partner contributions range from providing hardware to setting up ground stations and analysing the incoming scientific data.


    ESA plans to continue the search for habitable worlds with the future launch of the Darwin mission.


    Darwin will be a flotilla of four or five spacecraft that will take pictures of Earth-like planets around other stars and will allow scientists to analyse their atmospheres for the chemical signature of life.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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