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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

e2v Image Sensors Search for Earth-like Planets

Image Courtesy of Sodern
The COROT focal plane.
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With imaging sensors designed and manufactured by e2v, the COROT space telescope launched on Dec. 27, 2006, to examine star seismology and to search for extra-solar Earth-like planets. The e2v sensors will capture detailed, telescopic images from COROT as it travels its polar orbit around the Earth.

COROT (Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits) is part of the PROTEUS small satellites programme. A pioneering mission led by CNES, the French National Space Agency, COROT is a space telescope with a 30 centimetres aperture, which will be put into circular polar orbit around the Earth at an 827km altitude for two and a half years.

Four back-thinned, frame transfer charge coupled imaging devices (CCDs) from e2v-CCD42-80s-have been integrated into COROT's focal plane, which will capture images of stars, with two main objectives:

First, a scientific study of the stars' seismic activity will be carried out. The 2,048 square pixel e2v devices will help COROT to examine 'star-quakes' or vibrations that change the brightness of stars. This will enable scientists to compute a star's age, size, and chemical makeup.

Second, COROT will search for indications of extra-solar habitable planets. The e2v imaging devices will detect the planets as they cross the discs of their parent stars causing a dip in the brightness of the parent star, just as an eclipse of the sun darkens the Earth. However, COROT will be looking for events millions of times weaker than our familiar solar eclipse.

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