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
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
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
Michael Strahan's First Day on "GMA" Amazon's Deal With HBO Leapfrogs Streaming Rivals Stephen Colbert Tells David Letterman His Plan for 'Late Show' Georgetown police officer filmed tripping students Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Recycling Highlights for Earth Day Lupita Nyong'o Named People's 'Most Beautiful' Peeps Launched into Outer Space NYPD's Twitter Request For Photos Backfires New HBO Go Commercials Capture Awkward Family TV Watching Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Rise of the Milkbots Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes