Hopes are fading for the French COROT payload was no longer in communication with the spacecraft’s main computer and was thus no longer returning data. The failure of this primary communications chain in November was in March 2009. This time, the failure was on the back-up communicaitons chain and was assumed to be to due to radiation damage incurred each time the spacecraft passed through the so called “South Atlantic Anomaly” – an area which is subject to high radiation/high energy charged particles due to the Van Allen belts being located very close to Earth at that location.
COROT gave excellent service before its demise. Courtesy: CNES
COROT was operated by the French Space Agency, CNES, and was launched in December 2007. COROT’s mission was to find planets in other solar systems using the transit effect. Some 34 confirmed exoplanets have been found to date by the mission with a further 100 awaiting confirmation. After passing its three year mission life, the mission was extended a further three years in late 2009. In October, a further extension had been approved when the mission suffered this final failure.