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article imageESA observatory to find other hospitable planets

By Michael Thomas     Feb 20, 2014 in Science
The European Space Agency (ESA) will be sending an observatory to space to search for potentially hospitable planets outside our solar system.
The Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars (PLATO) mission will try to detect potential Earth-like candidates by measuring their brightness, according to the Verge. This is done via the use of 34 telescopes and cameras that will look for tiny drops in brightness of stars, which means that a planet has crossed in front of it.
The mission will look specifically for "Earth-sized planets and super Earths" within the habitable zones of their parent stars, which could mean that the planet supports life. PLATO will also measure seismic activity and combine that data with radial velocity observations made from Earth, which will allow scientists to measure any planet's mass, radius and density.
PLATO should be in space by 2024 for a six-year mission. It will depart on a Soyuz rocket from ESA headquarters in French Guiana.
Until other suitable candidates can be found, we'll have to wait and see whether the planned one-way trip to Mars bears any fruit.
More about Esa, Space, European space agency, hospitable planets
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