An artist's concept of the CoRoT satellite in orbit.
Click on image for full size
CNES / D. Ducros
CoRoT - Searching for distant worlds
The European Space Agency recently launched a satellite to study
convection and rotation in pulsating stars
. The mission will also look for
planets that "transit" these distant stars. Scientists from France named
the satellite CoRoT -- for Convection, Rotation, and planetary Transits.
CoRoT will measure the amount of light coming from many stars over
time. Some of these stars will have planets around them. Some of those
planets might pass in front of the star. This will cause a brief drop in the amount of light CoRoT sees. The drops must happen over and over from
the same star. The color of the light should not change, and the shape
of the drop must be right. Then it could be a planet.
Even planets the size of Earth might be found with CoRoT. This is about 10
times smaller than the smallest planets found by telescopes on the ground.
What if it finds a planet like the Earth? We can begin looking for signs
of liquid water, green plants, and maybe even intelligent life!
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