PLATO in depth

The PLATO space mission (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillation of stars) will detect terrestrial exoplanets at orbits up to the habitable zone of solar-type stars and characterise their bulk properties. PLATO will provide key information (planetary radii, mean densities, ages, stellar irradiation, and architecture of planetary systems) needed to determine the habitability of these unexpectedly diverse new worlds. PLATO capitalises on tremendous developments in high-precision photometry from space and ultra-stable ground-based spectroscopy techniques that have largely been led by Europe over the last 20 years.

PLATO will answer the scientific questions:

  • How do planets and planetary systems form and evolve?
  • Is our solar system special or are there other systems like ours?
  • Are there potentially habitable planets?

PLATO is the only mission either approved or in advanced planning that will be able to address these questions. For this purpose, it focuses on the small planets orbiting in the habitable zone of stars, including stars like our Sun. Furthermore, PLATO provides a huge database for all kinds of planets and planetary systems with well determined parameters. This database will complement the Gaia mission and provide a unique data set on planetary systems and stars for generations of scientists to come.

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