Tuesday, November 14, 2006

PERE NOEL TO HIT YULETIDE LAUNCH PAD AT RUSSIA'S BAIKONUR SPACE CENTER


The French space agency, CNES, is planning a late December launch for a space telescope that will finally place some hard parameters on the number of terrestrial mass planets circling other stars. COROT is an acronym for Convection, Rotation and Planetary Transits, in honor of the 19th century painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. The French impressionist's own work may not conjure images of "Starry Night"s as does the famous painting by his better known Dutch counterpart Vincent van Gogh. But Corot's telescopic namesake will lead the way for future terrestrial planet-finding space telescopes by surveying as many as 60,000 stars for rocky planets like our own. Kepler, an ambitious NASA follow-on mission, may see launch as early as 2008. Astrobiologists looking for earth-like analogues will likely have an exciting holiday season.

Image: CNES

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