The European Space Agency – ESA has completed a critical review of the new PLATO space observatory project.
ESA expects to launch the mission in 2026 and over 4 years of operation PLATO will observe more than 200 thousand stars, exploring the properties of exoplanets around them.
The PLATO (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars) project was selected by the ESA in 2014 for implementation as part of the Cosmic Vision program.
It will be a mid-range space observatory with a total mass of 2134 kilograms, the main instrument of which consists of 26 refracting telescopes, each 12 centimeters in diameter, with a field of view of 2250 square degrees.
The scientific objectives of PLATO will include the search and study of a large number of exoplanetary systems using the method of transit photometry.
The observatory will put special attention to terrestrial exoplanets in the habitable zone around sun-like stars.
In addition, research in the field of asteroseismology is planned. In total, over 4 years of operation, the observatory will observe more than 200 thousand stars.
PLATO consists of two parts: the payload module, which will house the telescopes, and the service module.
The latter will contain solar panels, propulsion, a sunscreen, as well as communication, control and thermal control systems.
The modules will be interconnected using a truss structure.
- ESA: https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Plato_exoplanet_mission_gets_green_light_for_next_phase