Looking for Earth-like planets way out in the cosmos is usually the task of huge – and hugely expensive – satellites. But a new “nanosatellite”, only 30cm long, is taking on the job, at a fraction of the price.
The ExoPlanetSat’s camera has a pretty tough sounding mission: In order to make the proper measurements for a given star (that might play host to Earth 2.0), the incoming photons have to hit the exact same pixels over and over. Even the slightest shake will ruin the image. But! Smaller satellites are much easier to navigate and keep still than their big brothers. Each ExoPlanetSat, launching next year at $US600,000 a pop, will focus its attention on a noteworthy star identified by a bigger planet-scouring eye. The hope is, one of them is just like ours. Cross your fingers! [Technology Review]