French Exoplanet Hunter Dead? DNews Nugget

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Bonne Nuit, CoRoT? The French space agency-led Convection, Rotation and Planetary Transits (CoRoT) satellite suffered a crippling computer failure on Nov. 2, preventing the space telescope from receiving data from its 30-centimeter (12 inch) telescope, Scientific American reports.

Launched in 2006, CoRoT has seen its mission lifetime doubled, and it was on the verge of getting a third mission extension. Over the last six years, the space telescope has notched up 31 confirmed exoplanets and another 200 candidate worlds awaiting confirmation. The mission suffered a huge setback in 2009 when its primary computer failed, prompting mission managers to swap over to its dormant backup systems.

Now it seems the backup systems have failed, hastening an end to a brilliantly successful exoplanet-hunting career — one that confirmed the discovery of the first small, rocky world orbiting another star. CoRoT has since been superseded by NASA’s Kepler space telescope’s 95-centimeter (37 inch) telescopic eye that has discovered around 3,000 candidate exoplanets.

“To be frank, I think the problem is serious,” said Fabienne Casoli, director of space science and exploration at the French space agency (CNES) headquarters in Paris.

A reboot of CoRoT’s systems will be attempted in December, but if that should fail, it will likely be time to say bonne nuit to the formidable hunter of alien worlds. via Scientific American

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