The French have launched a 'planet-hunter' telescope called Corot. This telescope will measure fluctuations of light received from stars to detect when planets of 'all sizes' move between the star and the telescope. The article contradicts itself on this point, however. At one point, they state that planets found will be rocky planets "a few times the size of earth". This method of planet hunting is currently used on Earth, however, from earth based telescopes the planets must be very large to detect the drop in light from a star. Researchers believe that they will be able to detect much smaller planets using this method. Let's hope so, I need some elbow room.
While measuring the light of stars, the Corot telescope will also be able to detect and measure a phenomena called 'starquakes', wherein a sound waves travel through the star creating a change in the amount of light emitted from the star. The article states that these starquakes allow astronomers to "calculate the starâ€™s precise mass, age and chemical composition." I wonder how that works?
NASA is not being left in the dark on this one. The plan to launch the Kepler telescope which they claim will be able to detect planets the size of earth with similar orbits around their respective stars.