COROT Planet Finder Launched

On December 27th, 2006, the COROT (COnvection ROtation and Planetary Transits) space-based telescope was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome atop a Soyuz 2-1B launch vehicle. The COROT mission is run by the CNES (French Space Agency) with Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Spain, the ESA (European Space Agency), and the ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre) participating.

Along its more than two and a half year mission, COROT will observe more than 120,000 stars. The COROT mission will be able to detect planets with orbits of 50 days or less in other stellar systems as they pass in front of their parent stars, blocking some of the light. This method is called “planetary transits” and detects planets by the small periodic drop of brightness on the disc of the star it orbits. Scientists predict that the COROT mission should discover, in addition to a large number of Jupiter-like planets, a few tens of rocky planets (exoEarths). Potential rings or satellites could also be detected around giant extrasolar planets.

More information and images of the COROT from the CNES website.