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November 27 2012

Pioneering planet hunter suffers radiation overdose


The first space telescope to hunt for transiting exoplanets may be on its deathbed.

On 2 November, the COROT satellite, which launched in 2006Movie Camera, lost the use of its only remaining onboard computer. The spacecraft can no longer receive data from its 30-centimetre telescope, which searches for the telltale dimming of stars as planets cross in front of them.

The culprit was too much radiation, says project scientist Malcolm Fridlund of the European Space Agency. The orbiting spacecraft had spent a long time in a harsh particle environment called the South Atlantic Anomaly.

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