An artist's concept of the CoRoT satellite in orbit.
Click on image for full size
CNES / D. Ducros
CoRoT - Searching for distant worlds
In December 2006, the European Space Agency launched a satellite that will
study convection and rotation in
. The mission will also
look for planets that pass in front of, or transit, these distant stars.
The lead scientists from France named the satellite CoRoT, which stands
for Convection, Rotation, and planetary Transits.
CoRoT will make very accurate measurements of the amount of light coming
from many stars over time. Some of these stars will have planets around
them. Some of those planets will pass directly in front of the star and
cause a brief drop in the amount of light CoRoT records. If these drops
happen regularly from the same star, if the color of the light does not
change, and if the shape of the drop is right -- it could be a planet.
Even planets as small as the Earth around other stars might be found with
CoRoT. This is about 10 times smaller than the smallest planets that have
been found from telescopes on the ground. If it finds a planet like the
Earth, then we can begin looking for signs of liquid water, green plants,
and maybe even intelligent life!
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