An European Space Agency (ESA) Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Project

PLATO (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) is a medium class (M class) mission studied in the framework of the ESA Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program.


PLATO is an acronym, but also the name of a famous greek philosopher.

According to Simplicium (VI century a.C.), Plato posed to the astronomers of the Academia the following question: <<What about those uniform and regular motions, assuming which the errant stars orbits are saved ? ».

PLATO was looking for a physical law accounting for the orbit of planets (errant stars)  and contemporary able to satisfy the philosopher’s needs for “uniformity” and “regularity” .

Web-Site Content: You find here information on the project, its science objectives and the organization of the PLATO consortium. The  internal documents produced by the PMC are available elsewhere.

Project History

PLATO was proposed to European Space Agency (ESA) by a team of scientists in response to the Call for ESA Cosmic Vision 2015-2025. It was selected together with other five M class missions from 52 proposals in the fall of 2007.

After a first assessment study carried out at the ESA/CDF the PLATO mission has been subject of further studies:

  1. assessment studies of the whole mission have been carried out independently by two industries;

  2. an assessment study of the PLATO payload (telescopes, detectors, on board and ground based data handling)  has been provided by a Consortium of Research Institutes and Universities: the PLATO Payload Consortium (PPLC).

The Assessment Phase activities have be completed in the course of 2009, and in January 2010 the Advisory Structure to the Science Programme of ESA has recommended PLATO for the  Definition Phase, in support of the decision by the Science Programme Committee eventually taken in February 2010.

Since May 2010, PLATO has entered the Definition Phase.

Two industries have consolidated the study of the Service Mission Module, while the PLATO Mission Consortium (PMC), funded by national agencies, have designed the PLATO Payload, the Data Center and prepared the Science activities required for the mission implementation.

PLATO has successfully completed the Phase A in Jun 2011.

On Oct 4th 2011 the ESA Science Programme Committee decided to maintain the PLATO mission, as a candidate for the M3 launch opportunity in 2022–2024. This had considered the positive recommendation by ESA’s Advisory structure concerning the PLATO mission scientific competitiveness with the missions selected in response to the Cosmic Vision 2010 Call (the “M3 candidates”).
PLATO has been a candidate for the M3 launch opportunity since March 2013.

PLATO Key Strategy

PLATO will observe a large sample of Bright Stars. In this way PLATO is able to completely characterize the discovered planets and their hosting stars. Specifically, the characterization includes the seismic analysis of the parent stars in order to precisely determine their mass, radius and age, i.e. those fundamental parameters that are required to precisely derive the same quantities for the hosted planets.

Moreover, the planetary systems discovered by PLATO, being bright, can be followed-up spectroscopically from ground and space based telescopes in order to: 

  1. Complete the characterization of the orbital parameters

  2. Measure the physicochemical properties of planets and their atmospheres.


For information on PLATO 2.0 ask:

Heike.Rauer at  - PMC Lead

D.Pollacco at - PSPM Lead

PLATO at the 
Cosmic Vision M3 Candidate Missions Presentation Events Paris, January 21st 2014

For the web-site content ask:

Isabella.Pagano at

Project Status

On February 19th 2014 PLATO has been selected by the ESA SPC  for the M3 slot, according to the proposal made by he ESA executive that followed the recommendation by the ESA Space Science Advisory Committee.The project is now in Phase B2

PLATO Science Goals

  1. Bulletreveal the interior of planets and stars

  2. Bulletdetect planets over the whole sky, including terrestrial planets in the habitable zone

  3. Bulletconstrain planet formation and evolution

  4. Bulletprovide accurate ages of planetary systems

  5. Bulletprovide targets for atmosphere spectroscopy