The creation of the ESA PLATO mission to explore and explore the worlds outside the solar system will be led by the German company OHB System AG as a general contractor. The contract covers the delivery of the satellite, including the testing phase, support during the launch campaign and the commissioning phase in orbit.
PLATO plans to launch in 2026 to search for and study extrasolar planetary systems with a special focus on rocky worlds around the solar type of stars and their habitable zone - distance to the star, where conditions allow for the presence of liquid water on the planetary surface.
PLATO will receive a scientific instrument from an array of 26 cameras and electronic units that will monitor a large portion of the sky in search of alien worlds. PLATO is perceived as the next generation mission in terms of finding planets that will be able to control thousands of bright stars in a large celestial square, fixing tiny regular dips in their brightness caused by planetary transit. With the passage of the planet cover only part of the starlight, so the operation will require extremely accurate and long-term photometric observations. PLATO will not only search for new planets, but will also study the characteristics of the host stars, as well as determine the masses, sizes and age of the worlds with unprecedented accuracy. This will allow a better understanding of the architecture of exoplanet systems and determine whether there are options for life.
PLATO will also deal with asteroseismology - the study of seismic activity of stars, understanding the composition and evolution of stars. The mission will be able to expand thanks to the project Cheops, which is going to be launched in 2019, to characterize the famous planets. In 2028, Ariel will start, which will analyze the atmospheres of foreign worlds.
PLATO will start work from the L2 point in space (at a distance of 1.5 million km from Earth). From this position opens a magnificent view of alien planets.