Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"European Planet-Hunting Satellite to Launch Tomorrow"

Good news here.

Flying high above the Earth's atmosphere, the Convection Rotation and planetary Transits (COROT) satellite will use a different technique better suited to finding smaller worlds. Called the "transit" technique, it will detect extrasolar planets by measuring the dip in starlight their passage creates as they glide across the face of their parent stars.

COROT's 27 centimeter (10.6 inch) lens will monitor the brightness of the stars, looking for the slight dip in starlight caused by the planet's passage. COROT will be able to monitor hundreds of thousands of stars simultaneously and will turn its unblinking eye toward different parts of the sky for 150 days at a time. COROT is expected to find between 10 to 40 rocky worlds over the course of its two and a half year mission, along with tens of new gas giant planets. ...

In 2008, NASA will launch Kepler, a space telescope that works in the same way as COROT, but which will be able to detect the first Earth-sized planets in similar orbits to our own world.

"The goal of Kepler is to find Earth-sized planets in habitable zones around equivalent Suns, or slightly smaller," said Micheal Moore, NASA's program executive for the mission. "We actually like them a bit smaller than our Sun itself, but basically the same thing."

Let's find those planets, and get busy settling them. In the meantime, we could also work on this.

No comments: