COROT sees first light (Jan 18)

COROT, the first space observatory designed to search for planets beyond our solar system (exoplanets), captured its "first light" yesterday. Engineers from France's Space Agency CNES sent a command to open the hatch protecting the 30-cm telescope, exposing its extremely sensitive charge-coupled device (CCD) arrays to the stars. Launched into Earth orbit about three weeks ago, the spacecraft will look for exoplanets around 60 000 stars in two regions of our galaxy.