The PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) is the selected M3 mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision program, to be launched in 2026. Its objective is to find and study a large number of extrasolar planetary systems, with emphasis on the properties of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone around solar-like stars. PLATO has also been designed to investigate seismic activity in stars, enabling the precise characterization of the planet host star, including its age. The primary goal of PLATO is to open a new way in exoplanetary science, by detecting terrestrial exoplanets in the habitable zone of solar-type stars and characterizing their bulk properties. PLATO will provide the key information (planet radii, mean densities, stellar irradiation, and architecture of planetary systems) needed to determine the habitability of these unexpectedly diverse new worlds and provide an answer to the profound and captivating question: how common are worlds like ours and are they suitable for the development of life? PLATO will assemble the first catalogue of confirmed and characterized planets in habitable zones with known mean densities, compositions, and evolutionary ages/stages. It is foreseen that the PLATO catalogue will consist of thousands of characterized planets of all types, 85,000 stars with accurately known ages and masses, and 1,000,000 high-precision stellar light curves.
Aim of our participation
The IEEC-CSIC is leading a workpackage that has as its main task to distribute and optimize the observations of the ground-based follow-up using the proven expertise in sophisticated scheduling algorithms. The exoplanet candidates received from the PLATO Data Center will be distributed among the different facilities according to the relevant parameters and to the availability of observing time.
We also lead the workpackage that has the responsibility of testing the accuracy and precision of stellar models and providing the grids of stellar models, from first to third generation, that will be used to determine the fundamental properties of stars, both hosting and not hosting exoplanets, observed by PLATO.
The mission has ended phase B1 with the completion of the industrial studies and the Red Book. The science case has been firmed up and the mission profile has been defined following the constraints provided by ESA. PLATO has been adopted by ESA as its M3 mission in June 2017 and has now entered the Implementation phase. Launch is scheduled for 2026.
Senior Institute members involved
, J. Colomé, A. Serenelli.