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Europe's planet-seeking satellite blasts off

COROT on its way

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Europe's "Convection Rotation and planetary Transits" (COROT) satellite yesterday successfully blasted off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on its mission to seek out strange new exoplanets and "probe the mysteries of stellar interiors".

Artist's impression of COROTSpecifically, COROT will use its 30-cm telescope to study "the acoustic waves that ripple across the surface of stars, a technique called asteroseismology" which will allow astronomers to calculate the their "precise mass, age and chemical composition".

COROT will also keep an eye out for stellar dimming caused by planets passing in front of any of the 120,000 stars it will examine. According to the European Space Agency (ESA) blurb, most of the planets detected will be gaseous "hot Jupiters", with an unkown percentage consisting of rocky bodies - perhaps "just a few times larger than the Earth".

COROT mission updates are available here. ®

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