Translator Disclaimer
29 July 2016 PLATO: a multiple telescope spacecraft for exo-planets hunting
Author Affiliations +
PLATO stands for PLAnetary Transits and Oscillation of stars and is a Medium sized mission selected as M3 by the European Space Agency as part of the Cosmic Vision program. The strategy behind is to scrutinize a large fraction of the sky collecting lightcurves of a large number of stars and detecting transits of exo-planets whose apparent orbit allow for the transit to be visible from the Earth. Furthermore, as the transit is basically able to provide the ratio of the size of the transiting planet to the host star, the latter is being characterized by asteroseismology, allowing to provide accurate masses, radii and hence density of a large sample of extra solar bodies. In order to be able to then follow up from the ground via spectroscopy radial velocity measurements these candidates the search must be confined to rather bright stars. To comply with the statistical rate of the occurrence of such transits around these kind of stars one needs a telescope with a moderate aperture of the order of one meter but with a Field of View that is of the order of 50 degrees in diameter. This is achieved by splitting the optical aperture into a few dozens identical telescopes with partially overlapping Field of View to build up a mixed ensemble of differently covered area of the sky to comply with various classes of magnitude stars. The single telescopes are refractive optical systems with an internally located pupil defined by a CaF2 lens, and comprising an aspheric front lens and a strong field flattener optical element close to the detectors mosaic. In order to continuously monitor for a few years with the aim to detect planetary transits similar to an hypothetical twin of the Earth, with the same revolution period, the spacecraft is going to be operated while orbiting around the L2 Lagrangian point of the Earth-Sun system so that the Earth disk is no longer a constraints potentially interfering with such a wide field continuous uninterrupted survey.
© (2016) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.

Back to Top