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19 August 2009 Current status of the assessment of the ESA Cosmic Vision mission candidate PLATO
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PLATO is a candidate of the European Space Agency's Science programme Cosmic Vision 2015-2025. "PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars" aims to characterise exoplanetary systems by detecting planetary transits and conducting asteroseismology of their parent stars. This is achieved through high-precision photometry (visible waveband). PLATO is currently in assessment phase, which was started with an internal study in ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF). Two phase-A, parallel industrial studies with 12-months durations are being conducted until July 2009. The objectives of these studies are to understand the critical areas inherent to this mission and assess the trade-offs in order to define a baseline concept that optimises scientific return while minimising complexity and risk and meeting the applicable programmatic constraints. PLATO will operate in a large-amplitude orbit around Sun-Earth L2 where it will observe targets for several years in order to characterise the exoplanetary transits. To observe enough stars (with focus on Sun-like cool dwarfs) to maximize the number of transit detections, a large field-of-view (FoV) is required as well as a sufficiently high collecting area. PLATO will achieve this objective by utilizing several smaller telescopes instead of one large telescope. Several different optical designs, both reflective and refractive, are being studied. Due to the large number of simultaneously observed stars the spacecraft will require a high degree of autonomy and adequate on-board processing capability. Moreover, the stars must be monitored with high accuracy, which means that the spacecraft must provide a stable environment in terms of pointing stability and thermal environment. This paper summarises the results of the assessment studies.
© (2009) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
R. Lindberg, A. Stankov, M. Fridlund, and N. Rando "Current status of the assessment of the ESA Cosmic Vision mission candidate PLATO", Proc. SPIE 7440, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets IV, 74400Z (19 August 2009);


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