Space telescope seeks Earth-sized planets

Dec. 29, 2006 at 7:30 PM
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PARIS, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A space telescope designed to seek out planets not much bigger than Earth has been launched into space from a location in Kazakhstan.

The mission is expected to increase knowledge of planets smaller than Saturn, of which only a few are known, Newscientist.com said. The majority of the 200 extra solar planets, about the size of Jupiter, were detected from the ground by scientists observing a tug the planets exert on their parent stars.

The new telescope, called Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits, or COROT, will be able to detect smaller planets, scientists said.

The COROT mission is led by France's National Space Study Center with participation from the European Space Agency. COROT will start its scientific observing around the end of January 2007. The entire mission is scheduled to last 2 1/2 years.

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