THE search for an Earth-like planet orbiting a distant star begins in earnest today with the launch of the first scientific satellite designed to find rocky "exoplanets" beyond our Solar System.
Instruments on board the French-made Carot satellite are designed to monitor the tiny perturbations to the light coming from a star caused by the orbit of a relatively small planet similar in size to the Earth.
Carot, which stands for convention, rotation and planetary transits, is also designed to monitor seismic "starquakes" – the acoustic waves that cross the surface of a star – which can be used to investigate stellar evolution.
A Russian rocket is scheduled to launch the Carot satellite this afternoon – 2.43pm British time – from the former Soviet Union's launch site at Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
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