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Europe sets plans for 2024 planet-hunting mission

Published on Feb 20, 2014 3:18 AM

PARIS (AFP) - Europe on Wednesday unveiled plans to launch a major space observatory in 2024 aimed at finding planets orbiting other stars, one of the new frontiers of astronomy.

An unmanned probe named PLATO - for PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations - will look for telltale wobbles in starlight that point to an "exoplanet" moving in front of its host star, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

The six-year mission has a budget of 600 million euros (S$1.04 billion), ESA said.

Equipped with 34 small telescopes and cameras, PLATO will scrutinise thousands of star systems.

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