The Union Recorder

Columns

January 28, 2013

OUR SPACE: Win some, lose some…

ATLANTA —  

It’s been about six years since we first talked about CoRoT, short for Convection, Rotation and Planetary Transits, the French spacecraft that was out there hunting for extrasolar planets. On se souvient?

Since then, the spacecraft hasn’t been in the news much, mostly because its mission went exactly as planned, and it was quietly cruising along, doing its thing and identifying potential candidates for follow-up observation – stars that may have planetary system around them.  Très chic, indeed.

Like other planet hunters such as Kepler, CoRoT works by detecting minute dips in brightness in a star when a planet passes in front of it, and it has identified 34 new planets, observation is almost complete on five more, and another 200 are awaiting detailed observation for confirmation. Oh-là-là, that’s quite a haul in 6 years!

Around four years ago, one of its data processing units failed – and loyal OUR SPACE readers know already what happened then: that’s right, engineers switched to the backup system. Mission saved, back to business as usual, everything hunky-dory, merci beaucoup.

That is, until last November, when the spacecraft suddenly fell silent and no longer sent science data back to Earth. It’s really quite maddening, because engineers have been able to ascertain that it’s not the backup data processing unit that failed, but that it’s a communication issue within the spacecraft. Mon dieu!

And it looks like there’s nothing that can be done to fix it. You know how in science fiction shows they are always able to “re-route the power” (next to the most popular fix of “reversing the polarity” – don’t get me started!). The reality is, if something goes bust up there, that’s usually it. 550 miles above the Earth there is no way to service the telescope, and sadly, everything else on it is working perfectly fine. We just can’t get there to make the repairs.  Quelle dommage!

Text Only
Columns
Poll
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Officials Fear MH17 Site Now Tampered by Rebels Lowes employees repair Vietnam vet's wheelchair Widow of Staten Island man who died after NYPD takedown says he was unjustifiably targeted