PLATO - Complementary Science (PLATO-CS)
CALL for Participation
The exploration of planets around stars other than the Sun, known as extrasolar planets or ‘exoplanets’, is one of the most exciting topics of 21st century science. One of the key goals of this research is to discover and learn about the properties of Earth-like worlds in the Sun’s neighbourhood. ESA, the European Space Agency, will do this in preparing a the space mission named PLATO. The mission’s launch is scheduled for 2024, and firm discoveries of Earth-like planets at distances to their host star similar than our Earth to the Sun, will be produced after three years of observational data have been collected. ESA’s Science Programme Committee voted for PLATO at its regular meeting in Paris on 19th and 20th February, 2014, where it was one of five proposed space projects for the so-called “M3” or “3rd medium-class” mission in its Cosmic Vision programme.
Not a single Earth-like exoplanet in a habitable zone around a star similar to our Sun has been found yet, let alone be fully characterized. PLATO will be a pioneer in finding new worlds for humanity to investigate. The mission consortium is led by
Dr. Heike Rauer at DLR, the German Aerospace Center. “PLATO will begin a completely new chapter in the exploration of extrasolar planets” Dr. Rauer confidently predicts. “We will find planets that orbit their star in the life-sustaining ‘habitable’ zone: planets where liquid water is expected, and where life as we know it can be maintained.”
PLATO Complementary Science
The main of objective of the PLATO ‘Complementary Science’ activitiesis to exploit the potential of PLATO for scientific programs that are distinct from the core science of the mission. PLATO will provide us with a unique database of variable phenomena, with precision of the order of a few 10-5 per hour, and on all time scales between 1 minute and a couple of years. Experience with dedicated space photometric missions like MOST, CoRoT, and Kepler clearly indicated that the scientific significance and information content of observations optimized for the primary science reach well beyond these goals.
Science not addressed by primary science is called PLATO Complementary Science (PLATO-CS) in the following. PLATO-CS will become available at no additional cost, while it largely extends the scientific outcome of the mission. In order to get the maximum out of the mission, it is necessary to optimise and organise PLATO-CS. In this sense, it is highly beneficial to include PLATO-CS as part of the mission set-up and any cost-benefit analysis, by providing the necessary information to optimize the scientific return of the mission.
PLATO-CS will rely on the calibrated light curves of the mission, to be assembled in a variability catalogue offered to the scientific community for exploitation. PLATO-CS will cover the following non-exhaustive list of scientific topics:
- Binary & Multiple Stars
- Pulsating Stars, Magnetic Stars, and Rotational Variables Earlier than F5
- Stars with Mass Loss
- Young Stellar Objects & Stars with Debris Disks
- Transient Phenomena
- Solar System and Other Moving Objects
- Galactic Structure
- Extragalactic Science
- Spectroscopic & Interferometric & Multicolour Follow-up
More topics will be added continuously by the PLATO-CS community during the preparation of the mission and as the mission moves along.