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Astronomy

CoRoT Mission Extended
The CoRoT satellite's mission has been extended for another three years. The satellite was launched in 2006 with two objectives: to scan the universe for exoplanets and to learn more about star structure (by measuring star oscillation). CoRoT was originally a three-year mission, but its mandate was renewed due to the overall high quality of data obtained—including some recent breakthroughs on both stars and exoplanets. The results of the mission were published in a special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics in October 2009.1
The mission's extension was granted by France's National center for space studies (CNES), together with its national and international partners (CNRS-INSU, the Paris Observatory, the European Space Agency (ESA), Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Brazil).
During the next three years, researchers hope to acquire more information on new types of stars. They will also focus on finding “super hot earths,” planets slightly more massive than the Earth that rotate much closer to their parent star.
1. “The CoRoT space mission: early results,” Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2009. Vol. 506 / 1 - October IV.

Planck Keeps its Promise
The Planck satellite, launched in May 2009, gave its first reading of the sky, a narrow band across the entire celestial sphere, providing excellent quality data. This European mission is designed to measure cosmic microwave background radiation, the oldest radiation emitted in the Universe, showing us how it was 380,000 years after the Big Bang. The satellite will provide a complete map of the sky with unprecedented accuracy for the heterogeneity of the temperature and polarization of cosmic microwave background radiation, using the French High Frequency Instrument. CNRS laboratories from INSU and IN2P3 have played a crucial role in its conception, development, and implementation. Complete readings from Planck are expected by 2012.

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