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Corot first light
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In the night between 17 and 18 January 2007, the protective cover of the COROT telescope has been successfully opened, and COROT has seen for the first time light coming from stars.
 Surveying vast stellar fields to learn about star interiors and to search for extra-solar planets is the goal of this unique mission, whose scientific observations will officially start at the beginning of February this year.
The first light detected by COROT comes from the constellation of the Unicorn near Orion, the great 'hunter' whose imposing silhouette stands out in the winter nights. This nice image, taken during the in-orbit calibration exercise, shows that the quality of this preliminary data is basically as good as the computer simulations.

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Credits: CNES

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RE: Corot Space Telescope
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A planet-hunting satellite that launched in December has opened its eye to the stars. Its first images suggest the satellite's instruments are in good working order, paving the way for planet searching to begin in February.
The mission, called Convection Rotation and planetary Transits (COROT) and led by France's Centre Nationale d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), launched on 27 December from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
It will use a 27-centimetre telescope to look for the tiny brightness dips of stars caused by planets passing in front of them, potentially spotting planets just two or three times the size of Earth.

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Title: Properties of the short period CoRoT-planet population I: Theoretical planetary mass spectra for a population of stars of 0.8 to 2 solar masses and orbital periods of less then 20 days
Authors: G. Wuchterl (1), C. Broeg (1), S. Krause (1), B. Pecnik (2), J. Schoenke (3) ((1) Thueringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Germany, (2) Department of Physics, University of Split, Croatia, (3) Institut fuer Theoretische Physik, Bremen University, Germany)

We study the planet populations in the discovery window of the CoRoT-space-telescope scheduled for launch on December 27th. We base the prediction on 'first principles' calculations of planet formation in the framework of the planetesimal hypothesis.
Aims: To provide a-priori planetary initial mass functions for confrontation with the CoRoT-planet discoveries in the entire range of sensitivity of the CoRoT instrument, i.e. for all giant planets and down to terrestrial planet masses.
Methods: We construct a comprehensive set of static complete-equilibrium core-envelope protoplanets with detailed equations of state and opacity and radiative transfer by convection and radiation. Protoplanets are calculated for host-star masses of 0.8 to 2 solar masses and orbital periods of 1 to 16 days. We subsequently check the stability of the planetary population by a series of methods.
Results: We find the static planetary populations to be stable and thus a plausible ensemble to predict the planetary IMF for orbital periods in the specified range.
Conclusions: We predict bimodal planetary initial mass functions with shapes depending on orbital period. The two main maxima are around a Jupiter mass and about 50 earth masses. We predict an abundant population of Hot Neptunes and a large population of planets that fill the solar-system gap of planetary masses between Neptune and Saturn.

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Successful mission by Starsem and Arianespace orbits COROT science satellite
On Wednesday afternoon, December 27, Arianespace and Starsem successfully launched the stellar observation satellite COROT for French space agency CNES.
The 1,717th launch of a Soyuz family launch vehicle took place from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz-Fregat 2-1b version of the launcher lifted off as scheduled at 8:23 p.m. local time on December 27, 2006 (14:23 UTC, 3:23 p.m. in Paris).
Arianespace, Starsem and their Russian partners confirmed that the launcher's Fregat upper stage accurately injected the COROT satellite into its targeted circular polar orbit. Two successive burns of the Fregat upper stage were carried out for this mission, placing the Corot spacecraft into its polar orbit at an altitude of 896 kilometres, 50 minutes after liftoff.

TLE Data

COROT
1 29678U 06063A 06362.45026729 .00014576 00000-0 10247-1 0 44
2 29678 090.0144 014.6306 0007534 099.5425 260.6604 13.98018702 121


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The hunt for a second Earth began in earnest yesterday with the launch of a space probe that will peer beyond the solar system to distant planets warmed by the faintest of stars.
At 2.23pm UK time a modernised soyuz rocket tore into the sky over Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying Corot, the first space telescope designed to find habitable planets orbiting stars in remote solar systems.

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Launched from Kazakhstan, the unique astronomy mission COROT is on its way. Its twin goals are to detect exoplanets orbiting around other stars and to probe the mysteries of stellar interiors as never before. COROT is a French national space agency (CNES)-led mission to which ESA and European partners are adding a particularly strong international flavour.

COROT was launched by a Soyuz-Fregat from Baikonur in Kazakhstan at 15:23 CET.

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Rocky planets not much bigger than Earth could be detected by a space telescope called COROT set to launch on 27 December. The mission is expected to provide a better understanding of planets smaller than Saturn, of which only a small number of examples are known so far.
The vast majority of the more than 200 extrasolar planets found to date have been detected from the ground by watching for the slight gravitational tug they exert on their parent stars, called the radial velocity technique.
Most of these planets are similar in mass to Jupiter or even heavier, because these 'gas giants' are the easiest to detect. But the new telescope, called COnvection ROtation and planetary Transits (COROT), will be able to detect much smaller planets.

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Since the discovery in 1995 of the first extra solar planet. more than two hundred have been identified using ground-based telescopes. COROT will be launched on 27 December 2006 by a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, and will be placed in a polar orbit around Earth at an altitude of some 850 fifty kilometres. Led by the French Space Agency CNES, the COROT mission today has a wide-ranging European scientific and technological participation including ESA, Austria, Belgium, Brazil and Germany.

ESApod video programme (24.39mb, mp4)

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Preparations for launching the French telescopic satellite COROT are underway at the Russian Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan.

"Russian and French specialists coupled the satellite with the Fregat upper stage in the clean chamber of an assembly and testing facility on platform No. 112 operated by the Russian-French joint venture StarSem today, and specialists from Russian space enterprises and French manufacturing companies are examining the assembly now" - Undisclosed Baikonur source.

The launch of the Soyuz-2 space rocket with the COROT on board is scheduled for December 27.

Credit: Daily News Bulletin, Moscow

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COROT, the upcoming mission to detect exoplanets and probe the interior of stars, is now scheduled for launch on 27 December 2006 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The launch, previously planned for 21 December, had to be postponed due to a leak detected in the fuel circuit of the Soyuz launcher's upper stage (Fregat).
After launch, COROT will be set onto a polar circular orbit around Earth. This orbit will allow for continuous observation of two large regions in opposite directions of the sky for more than 150 days each. Within each region there are many selected star fields that will be monitored in turn. The first target field is towards Orion, then the spacecraft will turn towards the centre of our Galaxy, the Milky Way.

Source ESA

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