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COROT is a space mission to search for earth-like planets orbiting other stars in the universe.


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COROT is designed to look for exo-planets. COROT will measure certain stars. COROT is a space mission led by the French Space Agency (CNES) in conjunction with the European Space Agency and other international partners. The mission has two objectives: to search for extrasolar planets, particularly those of large terrestrial size, and to perform asteroseismology by measuring solar-like oscillations in stars. It was launched at 14:28 GMT on December 27, 2006, atop a Soyuz 2.1b carrier rocket. and reported first light on January 18, 2007. It is the first mission of its kind. It detected its first extrasolar planet, Corot-exo-1b, in May 2007. CoRoT stands for (Convection Rotation and planetary Transits).

Overview of COROT space mission.

COROT spacecraft.
CoRoT.
Type of orbit: Polar orbit
Orbit height: 827km
Launched: December 27, 2006
Launch vehicle: Soyuz 2.1b
Mass: 630kg
Telescope style: afocal
Diameter: 27cm

CoRoT consists of a 27 cm (10.6 inch) diameter afocal telescope with an array of spectroscopic detectors. The satellite has a launch mass of 630 kg, is 4.10 metres long, 1.984 metres in diameter and is powered by two solar panels. A Russian rocket lifted the satellite into a circular polar orbit with an altitude of 827 km on 27 December 2006. The first scientific observation campaign started on February 3, 2007.

Over its planned 2 year mission it will observe perpendicular to its orbital plane, meaning there will be no Earth occultations, allowing 150 days of continuous observation. During the northern summer it will observe in an area around Serpens Cauda and during the winter it will observe in Monoceros. During the remaining 30 days between the two main observation periods, COROT will observe 5 other patches of sky.

The probe will monitor the brightness of stars, watching for the slight dimming that happens in regular intervals when planets transit their primary sun. COROT will be sensitive enough to detect rocky planets, though only those several times larger than Earth; it is also expected to discover new gas giants, which comprise almost all of the known extrasolar planets.

CoRoT will also undertake asteroseismology. It can detect luminosity variations associated with acoustic pulsations of stars. This phenomenon allows calculation of a star's precise mass, age and chemical composition and will aid in comparisons between the sun and other stars.

In each field of view there will be one main target star for the asteroseismology as well as up to nine other targets. Simultaneously, it will be recording the brightness of 120,000 stars brighter than apparent magnitude 15.5 for the extrasolar planet study. It is expected that a few dozen planets will be found as a result of this project.

Potential of COROT.

Before the begin of the mission, the team stated with caution that CoRoT will only be able to detect planets a few times to several times larger than Earth and that it was not specifically designed to detect habitable planets, however the potential for habitability. According to the press release announcing the first results, CoRoT's instruments are performing with higher precision than had been predicted, and may be able to find planets down to the size of Earth.

Corot should be assumed to only detect a small percentage of planets within its detection range due to the low percentage of existing planets that would likely make transits from the angle of observation from our Solar System. Expectations are that any planetary systems detected within a suitable range for further observations will be followed up by the future Darwin and TPF spacecrafts or other projects like Kepler (NASA) or Space Interferometry Mission.

Discoveries by COROT.

On May 5, 2007, it was reported that COROT had discovered a 'hot jupiter' orbiting a sun-like star 1,500 light years away. This planet has a radius approximately 1.78 times that of Jupiter, a mass approximately 1.3 times that of Jupiter, and orbits its parent star once every 1.5 days. . Preliminary data also indicates that due to better-than-expected performance of its science systems, COROT may be able to detect planets as small as Earth.




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