PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) is the third medium-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision program, due for launch in 2026. PLATO measures the brightness of stars to look for so called "planetary transits", which are periodic dimming of light caused by a planet passing in front of the disc of a star. Thanks to its large field of view and 26 high-precision cameras, PLATO will obtain the light curve of thousands of stars with the aim to look for extrasolar planets and in particular of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars. PLATO will measure the radius and orbital period of the detected transiting planets and the main physical properties of the host stars, such as radius, mass and age. The PLATO mission as a whole consists also of an intense ground-based observational campaign in support to the space-based observations. These aim at the measurement of the mass of the planets detected from space, through the radial velocity method. The measured mass, together with the radius derived from PLATO light curves, gives an estimate of the planetary bulk density and hence a first estimation of the physical characteristics of a planet, including its possible habitability.
PLATO will be launched with a Soyuz in 2026 from Kourou and will perform continuous observations of large portions of the sky from the Lagrangian L2 point.
The mission is led by DLR. IWF contributes to the development of the Router and Data Compression Unit (RDCU). Together with the University of Vienna, IWF takes part in the preparation for the science program and leads the work package on "Planetary Habitability".
Further information about PLATO is found at ESA.