Europe to build planet-hunting space telescope

AP News
Posted: Feb 19, 2014 12:27 PM

BERLIN (AP) — The European Space Agency says it plans to launch a satellite to hunt for planets outside our solar system by 2024.

ESA says the mission will be called PLATO, short for Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars.

The satellite will be equipped with 34 telescopes and cameras trained on 1 million nearby stars to search for tell-tale signs of orbiting planets.

Together with ground-based equipment PLATO will be able to determine the mass and rough composition of so-called exoplanets.

ESA said in a statement Wednesday that the mission will focus on planets as big as Earth or bigger where surface water could exist. Water is a key requirement for life.