The PLATO mission of the European Space Agency, which is intended for hunting the possibility of extraterrestrial lives as well as habitable exoplanets, has been labelled with the green light to take a step forward from blueprint stage to construction.
As officially confirmed, the long-standing project of ESA – to launch a powerful satellite for discovering twin earth has been formally approved, and it will be waged by the European Space Agency, sometime in 2026.
PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) mission is the third medium-class celestial operation of the European Space Agency (ESA) under its highly ambitious Cosmic Vision programme. The primary objective of the mission is to learn more about a large number of exo-planetary systems which are residing within the habitable zone and are potential to accommodate life. Alongside this, the mission will have more focus on finding out the properties of terrestrial planets orbiting in the habitable zone around sun-like stars which will help astronomers understanding the enigmatic concepts of the universe.
Alongside these objectives, PLATO’s design is also intended for investigating the inscrutable seismic movements of stars, which will enable scientists to make the precise characterisation of the host star planets, as well as its age. The observatory of the PLATO mission will consist of a total of 26 telescopes which will work together on a single platform for covering a large region of the sky.
The European Space Agency took to Tweeter for expressing the news of PLATO project getting green-light from the panel. In 2007, ESA announced the official adoption of the mission and this announcement marked a crucial milestone in the improvement of the project. However, since then the mission was in the blueprint stage as the approval was pending. However, after almost ten years, the project got sanctioned, and ESA is now planning to set the mission out in 2026. The project was earlier selected in 2014 as part of the Cosmic Vision Programme of ESA, but because of timeline and authorisation issues, the launch date was pushed to two years forward. Earlier, the mission was planned to take wings in 2024, but according to the rescheduled timing, the mission now will have effect in 2026. The project is headed by astrophysicists at the University of Warwick in the UK.
According to Don Pollacco, a professor of Physics at Warwick University and an associate of the mission, “The launch of PLATO will no doubt facilitate us with a golden opportunity to have a say in some of the most remarkable discoveries of the next decade. It will help us answer the primary questions about the existence of the world, its formation, and twin-stars, and will eventually lead us to the finding of extraterrestrial life.”