French Planet-hunting Corot Mission Comes to an End

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The French space agency, CNES, announced June 28 it has officially ended its Corot planet finding mission, which lasted twice as long as expected but whose main instrument failed in November. 

Launched in December 2006, Corot has been credited with discovering 32 exoplanets during six years of observations, with 100 more awaiting comfirmation, CNES said on its website. The planned three-year mission was extended in 2009 and again in 2012.

CNES elected to terminate the mission after engineering teams were unable to recover the main instrument, which detected exoplanets based on the dimming effect created as they passed in front of their host stars. The agency attributed the sensor’s failure to six years of bombardment by high-energy particles in space.  

CNES plans to lower Corot’s orbit and conduct additional experiments before passivating the spacecraft, which eventually will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up.