The PLATO Data Center (PDC) is under the responsibility of the PLATO Mission Consortium. The PDC supports the SOC in the production of the L1 data by carrying out the following tasks:
- Based on the calibration procedure and calibration data provided by the instrument team, and together with the PMC Calibration/Operation Team (PCOT), the derivation of the calibration parameters and their delivery to the SOC for implementation into the L1 processing pipeline.
- Definition of algorithms and support to the implementation of modules to monitor the scientific integrity and health of the observations.
- Definition of algorithms and support to the implementation of modules in the data analysis system for the removal of instrumental effects and generation of L1 data.
- Provision of the PLATO Input Catalogue to the SOC for the scientific mission planning.
- Provision of input to the scientific quality control software and procedures.
- Provision of the necessary algorithms and tools for the optimisation of the onboard processing.
- Provision of tools and support to simulate, test and validate the L0 to L1 processing pipeline.
The PDC implements, tests and maintains the data analysis tools needed to generate the Level 2 data and Level 2 scientific data products, which include catalogues, list of planets, their parameters and additional characterisation information.
The PDC is responsible for the development and maintenance of all systems required to process the final PLATO mission products and for the computing infrastructure required to deliver the PLATO Level 2 scientific data products. Specifically:
- The PDC technically designs, implements, tests and maintains the data analysis tools needed to generate the (exoplanet and stellar) Level 2 data and higher level scientific products, which include catalogues, list of planets, their parameters and additional characterisation information. The scientific validation of the data analysis tools will occur within the PDC based upon PSM specifications and with PSM involvement.
- The PDC shall develop and maintain a main PDC Data Base (PDC-DB) which will acquire, from the SOC, the L0 and L1 data, and other data. The PDC-DB shall make the data available to the PDC Data Processing Centres (PDPCs) to produce the L2 and L3 data products. The validated L2/L3 data products, will then be provided back to the SOC. The PDC-DB shall be a central hub for the exchange and maintenance of data within the PDC.
- The PDC is responsible for the management of the database that assembles all ground-based followup observations on PLATO targets, plus ancillary data extracted from various existing catalogues and databases, and places them in the PDC Data Base at the disposal of the PLATO Mission Consortium.
- Provision of data analysis support tools to assist the science team to inspect and to scientifically validate the PLATO data products within the PDC. In particular, these tools will assist the PS & the PSM to update the ranking of planetary candidates and to confirm planetary systems.
The software and hardware technologies available today would suffice to build a successful PDC. The complexity of the PDC lies mostly in the management, integration, and validation of its many hardware and software components.
The PDC will adopt a well defined cyclical development schedule (6 month cycles). Software developed in the PDC will be released at the end of each cycle, with this being integrated into an end-of-cycle system. Over the development lifetime, there will always be a working system, with this working system increasing in functionality over time, such that by the system readiness review prior to launch, the processing system has fully met the requirements.
This approach ensures that work developed over many sites is integrated on a frequent timescale – ensuring that any interface issues are resolved at an early stage. It enables end-to-end testing to commence at an early stage – thus facilitating the ‘smooth transition’ of a system handling test data to one handling real instrument data (from the lab during development) to one handling real data from the S/C during flight operations.
A key part of the development process will be access to simulation data, required to test all software components. This data will simulate the PLATO telemetry stream, PLATO pixel level data and PLATO catalogue level data. Simulation data will be released ahead of each cycle to allow for testing of the following cycle release. The simulation data is provided to the PDC-DB and is then available through the PDC-DB interface to all PDPCs.
The PDC shall remain operational for at least three years after the end of the PLATO space operations phase to enable the confirmation of planets with periods of up to three years.
The PDC will encompass several facilities in Europe:
- The PDC-DB at MPSSR (Germany) will hold the PLATO scientific data products, the input catalogue, and all relevant preparatory and follow-up data on the PLATO targets that are required for the processing of the L2 data products, in particular specifically acquired ground-based follow-up observations.
- Computing resources will be distributed among five Data Processing Centres:
- PDPC-C at IoA-Cambridge (UK) for the Exoplanet Analysis System
- PDPC-I at IAS (France) for the Stellar Analysis System
- PDPC-A at ASI (Italy) for the Input Catalogue
- PDPC-L at LAM (France) for the Preparatory and Follow-Up Database Management
- PDPC-M at MPSSR (Germany) for the running of the data analysis support tools.
The PDC activities through all phases of the mission will be funded through institutional and national agencies.
The PDC is coordinated by Laurent Gizon, MPSSR.