PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) is the third medium-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision programme. Its objective is to find and study a large number of extrasolar planetary systems, with emphasis on the properties of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone around solar-like stars. PLATO has also been designed to investigate seismic activity in stars, enabling the precise characterisation of the planet host star, including its age.

Theme What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?
Primary Goal Detection and characterisation of terrestrial exoplanets around bright solar-type stars, with emphasis on planets orbiting in the habitable zone.
  • Photometric monitoring of a large number of bright stars for the detection of planetary transits and the determination of the planetary radii (around 3% accuracy)
  • Ground-based radial velocity follow-up observations for the determination of the planetary masses (around 10% accuracy)
  • Asteroseismology for the determination of stellar masses, radii, and ages (up to 10% of the main sequence lifetime)
  • Identification of bright targets for spectroscopic follow-up observations of planetary atmospheres with other ground and space facilities
Wavelength Optical
Telescope A number of small, optically fast, wide-field telescopes
Orbit Large amplitude libration orbit around Sun-Earth Lagrangian point, L2
Lifetime 4 years of nominal science operations; satellite built and verified for an in-orbit lifetime of 6.5 years
Type M-class Mission


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