PLATO adopted

This week the ESA M3 mission PLATO has been officially adopted in ESA Science Programme.

PLATO will allow us to continue the quest for rocky planets in the habitable zone. In contrast to Kepler, PLATO will focus on brighter stars, allowing for targets for future follow up, exact mass determination and even spectroscopic characterization of their atmosphere. Due to the high photometric precission and high cadence observations over long time scales will also allow us to use asteroseismology to precisly determine mass and radius of the planets host stars, which again will reflect on our knowledge of the planetary parameters.

Unfortunately PLATO will launch not before 2026. But until then other promissing missions will keep us busy. TESS, a NASA maission, will go for transiting planets on short orbits around nearby stars, CHEOPS, an ESA S mission, will allow us to follow up on already known planetary systems, JWST and the ELT will also get operational which will be on the forefront to further characterize known planets, analyzing their atmospheres.

SSAC recommended PLATO

The rumours of the last days now got out… A BBC article now states that PLATO is in the pole position for the M3 selection. It is a needed step in exoplanet science and after the odd M1/M2 selection process, it was well deserved. Of course I’m biased, but i have to say that the science case of PLATO is extremly compelling, and without PLATO the future in Exoplanet science would be much less exciting. With PLATO the search for the second habitable planet goes into the right direction.

More about PLATO can be found on my site and here and here.

Another blog entry about the recommendation can be found here.