TECH
01/07/2013 12:09 BST

COROT Exoplanet Hunting Telescope Mission Terminated After Computer Fails

D. Ducros/CNES

A satellite that discovered the first known rocky exoplanet has been officially retired after its on-board computer failed.

The COROT mission launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) has been in space since December 2006.

COROT stands for "convection, rotation and planetary transits" which refers to the way in which it detects planets by measuring slight variations in the light from stars as a planet passes in front of it.

corot

An artists impression of the satellite

Its original three-year mission was extended until 31 March 2013 meaning it had far outlived its life expectancy.

It has identified 30 confirmed planets and around 100 potential candidates.

A fault in November of last year meant its on'board computer no longer received data from its 27-centimetre telescope though the team behind it hoped to be able to bring it back online.

Unfortunately all attempts failed and the mission was ended.

The news is a blow to planet-hunting astronomers as the other satellite with a similar mission, Nasa's Kepler telescope broke down in May.

This now means all searching for earth-like planets will have to be done from terrestrial telescopes which are not as effective as space-based ones.

Nasa and the ESA both intend to launch replacements in 2017