Science & Exploration

COROT factsheet

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Space Science

Searching for planets outside our Solar System and mapping the stellar interiors

Name COROT stands for 'Convection Rotation and planetary Transits' which describes the scientific goals of the mission.

Description COROT is the first mission capable of detecting rocky planets, several times larger than Earth, around nearby stars. It is also the first European mission to carry out asteroseismology, that is looking inside stars to discern their physics. It consists of a small (30-centimetre) space telescope.

Launch 27 December 2006 (Soyuz-Fregat launcher at Baikonur, Kazakhstan).

Status In operations.

Journey After launch, COROT was placed on a circular orbit allowing continuous observations of two regions in the sky for more than 150 days each.

Notes COROT's main tasks are:

  • to detect planets in other stellar systems as they pass in front of their parent stars, blocking some of the light, and
  • to study stellar interiors by detecting the ripples spreading across a star's surface, altering its brightness. The exact nature of the ripples allows astronomers to calculate the star's precise mass, age, and chemical composition.

ESA's involvement places COROT into the European framework to search for habitable planets. In particular, it will open the door to future missions like ESA's Darwin.

COROT is a mission led by the French National Space Agency, CNES. ESA joined the mission in October 2000 by agreeing to provide the optics for the telescope and to test the payload.

Through this collaboration a number of European Scientists have been selected as Co-Investigators in open competition. They come from Denmark, Switzerland, the UK and Portugal. The baffle of the telescope has also been developed by a team at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC).

ESA’s Research and Scientific Support department (RSSD) at ESTEC is a full partner by providing the on-board Data Processing Units (DPU’s). Other partners in COROT are Austria, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Brazil.

The ground stations used for COROT are located in Kiruna (S), Aussaguel (F) Hartebeesthoek (South Africa), Kourou (French Guyana), with mission specific ground stations in Alcantara (Brazil) and Vienna (A).

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