PLATO is the M3 mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme.
The overarching responsibility for all aspects of the PLATO mission rests with ESA’s Directorate of Science. ESA is responsible for:
- the overall PLATO mission definition and space segment development;
- the development, procurement, manufacturing, assembly, integration, test, verification and timely delivery of a fully integrated spacecraft capable of accommodating the PLATO scientific instrument, fulfilling the mission requirements and achieving the mission objectives;
- the procurement of the CCD chips for the Focal Plan Arrays of the PLATO cameras, as an Agency Furnished Item and their delivery to the PLATO Mission Consortium (PMC);
- the development, procurement, integration and verification of the Mission Operation Centre (MOC) and of the Science Operation Centre (SOC), part of the Science Ground Segment (SGS);
- the launch, early operations, commissioning and operations of the spacecraft.
During the development and commissioning phases, an ESA-appointed Project Manager will be responsible for implementing and managing ESA’s activities. The PLATO Project Manager chair the PLATO ESA Study Team. After a successful In-Orbit Commissioning Review, a Mission Manager will take over the responsibility for the mission throughout its routine and any extended phases.
Funded by National Funding Agencies, within the remit of a Multi-Lateral Agreement (MLA) including ESA and the national Funding Agencies, the PMC, under the leadership of a PMC Lead (PCL) or Principal Investigator (PI), is responsible for:
- providing the instrument according to the agreed interfaces and schedule;
- contributing to the integration and tests of the instrument at system level, under the control of ESA;
- supporting the instrument maintenance and operations throughout the mission lifetime;
- providing contributions to the Science Ground Segment (SGS).
In preparation for and during the operation of the mission, the PMC will be also responsible for generating, the PLATO Input Catalogue (PIC), containing the list of targets to be observed for each spacecraft pointing, and of defining a “prime sample”, consisting of PIC targets to be observed with high PLATO accuracy.
In order to fulfil the PLATO scientific objectives, the Ground-based Observation Programme (GOP) will play an important role, as it is necessary for the confirmation and characterisation of planets. For this ESA will issue an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for the community to participate in the ground-based observations of the candidates in the “prime sample”. The selected GOP Team will be responsible of the ground-based observation campaign.