A proposed European Space Agency (ESA) mission that will search for Earth-like planets around other stars and analyse their atmospheres for the chemical indicators of life. Darwin will consist of eight spacecraft flying in formation at the L2 Lagrangian point of the Earth's orbit, 1.5 million km from Earth in the opposite direction to the Sun. Six of these craft will contain telescopes of about 1.5 m aperture and will be arranged in a ring, feeding infrared light to a central hub. The central hub will combine the signals, cancelling out light from the central star while allowing light from any accompanying planets to be seen. The eighth spacecraft is the communications link with Earth, which sits beneath the formation of other satellites to monitor their positions and issue corrections. Darwin is similar to NASA's proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder, and the two missions may be combined.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.