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Paris, 30 June 2005

OBSERVATOIRE DE PARIS - CNRS/INSU - CNES
JOINT PRESS RELEASE
 


PR 52/2005



COROT OBSERVATION SATELLITE – CNES MISSION
COMPLETION AND DELIVERY OF EQUIPMENT BAY AND CAMERA TO CNES
MARK MAJOR PROJECT MILESTONE

The Observatoire de Paris today delivered to CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre the equipment bay and camera built by the team led by the LESIA space and astrophysics instrumentation research laboratory.
These key elements of the COROT satellite, set for launch in 2006, were designed and built in partnership with the LAM astrophysics laboratory in Marseille and the IAS space astrophysics institute.


Scheduled for launch in July 2006 from Russia, COROT is built around CNES’s Proteus minisatellite bus. The COROT space telescope, with an entrance pupil 27 centimetres across, will be placed into a circular, polar Earth orbit at an altitude of 896 kilometres, where it will operate for at least two-and-a-half years. The COROT observation satellite—for COnvection, ROtations and planetary Transits—is an astrophysics mission focused on two objectives: to detect star vibrations (stellar seismology) similar to those found in the Sun, in order to understand their inner structure; and to look for Earth-like extrasolar planets. COROT will be a world first, able to detect phenomena and objects never yet observed.

CNES is the COROT prime contractor leading the project in partnership with French research laboratories—including the LESIA space and astrophysics instrumentation research laboratory (affiliated to the Observatoire de Paris), the LAM astrophysics laboratory in Marseille, the IAS space astrophysics institute and the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées (OMP)— participating nations (Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Germany and Spain) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

On 30 June, LESIA delivered to CNES in Toulouse the equipment bay and camera, built at the Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, with partner laboratories. The equipment bay, which houses the photometric data acquisition and pre-processing electronics on board the satellite, took LESIA’s team of 12 engineers more than 60 person/years to build. The camera consists of a dioptric objective and a focal unit with four frame-transfer CCD detectors, plus a bi-prism on the “exoplanet” channel capable of acquiring light curves in three colours. A LESIA-IAS team of six engineers took more than 25 person/years to build the camera.

Twenty scientists from the Observatoire de Paris (mostly LESIA but also GEPI and LUTH) are taking part in the COROT mission, working mostly on planning observations, developing scientific models and preparing to exploit the much-awaited data. The overall engineering effort, by the time COROT is launched, will have reached 140 person/years at LESIA and 30 person/years for researchers.

LESIA’s partner laboratories for COROT are: LAM, IAS, DLR-Berlin, IWF-Graz and the ESA Research and Scientific Support Department. Industry partners are: Alcatel Space Industries-Cannes, Alcatel Space-Valence, Axon, Bureau Veritas, Liege Space Centre, EADS-Munich, E2V Technologies, GMV, Noveltis, RESA, Sagem-REOSC, Steel, Sodern, Sonaca and Verhaert (Belgium).

Press Contacts:


Observatoire de Paris - Brigitte Bourdon, tel. +33 (0)1 40 51 21 55
CNES - Sandra Laly, tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 76 87
CNRS-INSU - Philippe Chauvin, tel. +33 (0)1 44 96 43 36 




 


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