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PLATO, PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars
post Dec 7 2011, 07:16 PM
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I saw this brief ESA blurb about a potential successor to the Kepler mission:

It is under review along with Euclid and the Solar orbiter, but only 2 of these 3 missions will have funding to move forward. According the the website:
"The final decision about which missions to implement will be taken after the definition activities are completed, which is foreseen to be in mid-2011."

I found news on ESA's website that makes it appear that PLATO did not make the cut.
http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=49385 ://http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/ob...objectid=49385

This is surprising to me considering that TESS was not selected by NASA, so it appears there are no follow up telescopes planet to expand upon Kepler's success, which is restricted to such a small survey site. I wonder if there might be another way to fund PLATO? The only other information I've gleaned so far is this website:

Are these missions getting bumped in part due to the need to have JWST perform follow up studies? It'd be nice to see space telescopes getting fast-tracked instead of sidelined, and something else needs to replace Kepler in another 8 years.

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post Dec 7 2011, 07:51 PM
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Well, Kepler to me was more of a "reach into a bag of marbles and get some statistics on what's there" kind of mission. It won't tell us which exact nearby stars to look at, but rather which type of star is more likely to have Venus to Marsish planets. A followup JWST or other mission to examine all nearby star systems would be more valuable than another "reach" into the bag. There might be some science to do on a mission looking a different direction, to get a feel for how statistics vary depending upon metallicity of the star or spiral arms vs core vs halo, but the majority of the science would have already been done by Kepler.

Now, if nearby surveys *don't* find anything interesting, then a follow-on survey of more stars is warranted.

Space Enthusiast Richard Hendricks
"The engineers, as usual, made a tremendous fuss. Again as usual, they did the job in half the time they had dismissed as being absolutely impossible." --Rescue Party, Arthur C Clarke
Mother Nature is the final inspector of all quality.
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post Feb 20 2014, 02:39 PM
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PLATO has been selected for 2024 launch by ESA as its 3rd medium class mission:
PLATO will blast off aboard a Soyuz rocket and commence a six-year mission, operating at L2, a point in space 1.5 million kilometers farther from the Sun than Earth. ESAís Gaia mission will assist PLATO, with both spacecraft working in tandem with future ground- and space-based telescopes.

PLATO will use its 34 telescopes and cameras to monitor up to a million stars over half the sky, searching for the transits of exoplanets in front of their host stars. As a planet passes in front of, or Ďtransitsí, its host star, there are minuscule but regular decreases in the starís brightness. In conjunction with ground-based measurements of an exoplanetís radial velocity, PLATOís data will allow calculation of the planetís mass and radius. These results will in turn allow the planetís density to be ascertained, revealing something about its composition.

PLATOís main goal in its survey of thousands of other solar systems is to identify Earth-sized exoplanets and super-Earths inside the habitable zones of their parent stars. PLATO will also study the seismic activity of other stars, facilitating fuller understanding of the host suns of each exoplanet, including the starsí masses, radii, and ages. Data on Sun-Earth analogue star systems will help us understand the evolution and arrangement of our solar system and how it compares to other star systems.

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post Feb 20 2014, 04:26 PM
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Link to the ESA announcement. Link

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