PLATO1 is an M-class mission of the European Space Agency’s Cosmic Vision program, whose launch is foreseen by 2026. PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars aims to characterize exoplanets and exoplanetary systems by detecting planetary transits and conducting asteroseismology of their parent stars. PLATO is the next generation planetary transit space experiment, as it will fly after CoRoT, Kepler, TESS and CHEOPS; its objective is to characterize exoplanets and their host stars in the solar neighbors. While it is built on the heritage from previous missions, the major breakthrough to be achieved by PLATO will come from its strong focus on bright targets, typically with mv≤11. The PLATO targets will also include a large number of very bright and nearby stars, with mv≤8. The prime science goals characterizing and distinguishing PLATO from the previous missions are: the detection and characterization of exoplanetary systems of all kinds, including both the planets and their host stars, reaching down to small, terrestrial planets in the habitable zone; the identification of suitable targets for future, more detailed characterization, including a spectroscopic search for biomarkers in nearby habitable exoplanets (e.g. ARIEL Mission scientific case, E-ELT observations from Ground); a full characterization of the planet host stars, via asteroseismic analysis: this will provide the Community with the masses, radii and ages of the host stars, from which masses, radii and ages of the detected planets will be determined.