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COROT launch - the beginning of a period in the detection of planets outside the solar system

There is no doubt that in the coming decades we will be able to answer the big questions: Is the Earth unique? Are we alone in the galaxy? Is there life outside our solar system? All of these key questions will be answered by COROT and more sophisticated spacecraft to follow

by Tal ben Borhum

11 years ago, the first planet orbiting a star (like our sun - 51 Pegasi - a star located 50.1 light years from Earth) was discovered, and its name is Pegasi 51 b. Since then, more than 200 other planets have been discovered in other systems. In some cases several planets were even discovered around one star. The first ones to be discovered were almost exclusively very large planets, up to several times the mass of Jupiter, and very close to their parent star, obviously, because their discovery is relatively easy.
The "Corot" spacecraft, launched at the end of 2006, will take advantage of the fact that the passage of a planet in front of its parent star causes fluctuations in the brightness of this star to discover the existence of the planet. After the spacecraft has detected illumination changes 3 times, it will be possible to assume with a high degree of certainty that there is indeed a planet in this system, it will be possible to estimate its size and the cycle time in which it orbits its star.
The "Corot" mission is designed to discover rocky planets, whose orbit around their parent star is up to 50 days (the spacecraft will observe for 150 days one area of ​​the sky, and then, the opposite area). With the help of "Corot", the researchers hope to find rocky planets around red dwarfs, which are in the "radius of liquid water from the star" (this radius in the solar system is between Venus and Mars, which are at the limit of the radius, so there is no liquid water regularly on the surface of these planets). The temperature of the red dwarfs is lower than that of the Sun, and therefore there is a high chance of finding water in a liquid state - which, in our understanding, is a necessary factor for the existence of life and enables a state of biological occurrences, and perhaps even an outbreak of life on these planets.

Similar to "Corot", NASA intends to launch in 2008 a spacecraft called "Kepler", which has a better capability than "Corot". The significant advantage of "Kepler" over "Corot" is its ability to observe the same point for 4 consecutive years, during which you will be able to find planets whose orbits are the same as that of the Earth, or even larger.
The problem with the method of discovering planets through the eclipse of their parent star, focuses on the fact that from our vantage point, (the solar system), it is possible to see only 5 percent of the planets, and therefore, the detection method common today, (discovering the large planets closest to their parent star), takes advantage of The gravitational force exerted by the planet on its star creates a "wobble" (which is discovered with the help of the "Doppler effect", and is expressed in the light spectrum in which the star is observed), and makes it possible, indirectly, to discover the planet.

Observation is now mostly done with the help of telescopes from Earth, and also, with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, with the help of which many planets have already been discovered. Other missions that are planned for the next decade to measure the "wobble" of the stars at a very high level, are SIM and the James Webb Telescope. and TPF (Terrestrial Planet Finder) of NASA, and Darwin of ESA. These missions are supposed to share a number of spacecraft, (group flight), which will be connected to each other by an infrared connection, to create one very accurate image. With the help of these telescopes it will be possible to observe the planets directly and get a lot of information about them, for example what kind of atmosphere they have, and whether these planets have the chemical substances necessary to create life.

It seems that in the coming decades we will be able to find answers to the "big" questions: Is the Earth unique? Are we alone in the galaxy? Is there life outside our solar system? We may get answers to these key questions and maybe, one day, many years from now, we will be able to reach these exotic worlds.

Drafting and editing: H.Y. Glikzam - technical writing, translation, editing 

6 תגובות

  1. As in the movie Blip, the question is what do we want to find? It is already clear that we are special but not alone. And obviously there are other lives, so why aren't they looking for us?
    So this is it, this is life and we have no chance of competing with nature, but when opinion leaders like Stephen Hawking and authors of science books influence the consciousness of humanity, then this is probably what is found... and some of these worlds will be rich in resources and landscapes, but there is nothing like home...

  2. Another trending article from the creator of NASA and the lies they have been telling everyone for decades. Totally ignoring the millions of conclusive proofs of the existence of aliens and UFOs. Despite all the research and available information, they continue to claim that there is no life outside the earth. Wake up, we are in the age of the Internet, the secrets are already known and the cover-ups have long since stopped working on anyone. It is really shocking to read an article that someone as if Copied word for word from some lecture.

  3. There is a mistake in the last line of the penultimate paragraph. If we want to find life that is similar to us and the other creatures on Earth then as it is written we will have to locate these chemical substances that we know. But I assume that the intention was to find life in general and not necessarily those that are necessarily similar to life on Earth, so that no chemical substance can be excluded from the possibility that there is life around it! It would be stupid if they evacuated the devices from a planet where they didn't detect "organic" substances like ours. In another place with other materials and a different history, organic matter may be a different matter from our own.

  4. Here we are starting a task that will finally stop us from complaining about what our ancestors have known for tens of thousands of years - we are not alone!
    What an egotistical thought it is to think that we are alone in this vast universe, that our little blue planet is "special" and "one of a kind".
    I believe that initially we will find all kinds of planets that contain primitive life, but over the years and with the programming of more sophisticated technologies, we will realize that there are also an infinite number of communicative civilizations somewhere in space.
    I am waiting for this day, for the day when it will become clear to everyone that God is just another crazy theory, that we are just stardust and we are not at all as special as we are sure...just another unfortunate civilization among many that have developed in space.
    Amen Sela (the prayer is not intended for God, God forbid).

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