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The first batch of charge-coupled devices (CCDs) to be flown on ESA’s PLATO space observatory was accepted by ESA last month. This is an important milestone on the road to creating a groundbreaking spacecraft that will detect Earth-sized exoplanets in orbit around distant stars.
The CCDs will be a key element of the largest digital combined camera ever flown in space. This camera will receive light from 26 telescopes, all mounted on a single satellite platform. The first 20 CCDs for PLATO were accepted for delivery by ESA in mid-March, and the remaining 84 detectors will be delivered in further batches before the end of 2020.
“The delivery of the first detectors at this time is important because it secures the early availability of one of the key elements of the whole mission,” said Bengt Johlander, the PLATO Payload Manager for ESA.
For more details, see ESA's press release: http://sci.esa.int/plato/61280-delivery-of-first-detectors-for-platos-exoplanet-mission
On March 27th a successful close-out meeting for the Payload Preliminary Design Review (P/L-PDR) was held at ESTEC, with ESA certifying that PLATO has achieved all the criteria necessary to pass the review.
The PMC leadership would like to thank the whole team for the enormous effort they made. It was only possible to reach this important milestone thanks to the consistently high motivation and desire to succeed that is present at all levels of the consortium.
In 2021 we will have the Payload Critical Design Review (P/L-CDR) and with the Camera Series Production Readiness milestone to deal with. Before that, however, we must complete the ongoing Unit PDRs.
The PLATO mission consortium has a new website - https://platomission.com/
The new website provides an overview of the PLATO mission, information about the different groups involved, science goals and requirements, development work, mission timeline, etc.
For general information about PLATO, please use the new website. PSM-specific news and updates will continue to be made available through this website.
OHB System AG, a subsidiary of Bremen-based space and technology group OHB SE has been selected as prime contractor for the science mission PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars (PLATO) by the European Space Agency (ESA).
During the development and the production of the PLATO satellite, OHB System will have access to the contribution of a core team consisting of Thales Alenia Space (France and UK) and RUAG Space (Switzerland)(source: OHB System AG).
The prime selection together with the upcoming Instrument Preliminary Design Review (IPDR) are important milestones towards the completion of the development phase and the start of the implementation phase next year.
The PSM review of the onboard data processing algorithms continues.
Following the delivery of the final reports to the PDC Office and the Performance Team, the PSM Office have been working with those groups to address the action items arising from the reports. Several of these have now been closed, but there are some outstanding issues that urgently need attention. Of these, the most important is the question of scientific testing to show that the algorithms fulfil the mission's science requirements.
The PSM Office circulated an email update regarding this question, with information about how PSM members can contribute to this effort. Please get in touch via email if you have not received this.
Information, and a list of next steps, is available on the Reviews page of the Members-only area (click the title of this news item)
Myriad updates have been made to the website over the last week. These include updates to the PSM members-only area; please click the title of this item for more details.
Brief reports for PLATO Week 4 (Summer 2017) and PLATO Week 5 (Autumn 2017) are now available through the Meetings page. Both PLATO Weeks included a large number of sessions that were relevant to the PSM.
The presentations from these meetings are available from the PLATO Sharepoint (sign-in required). Those relevant to the PSM will be made available through the Meeting Documents page (PSM members only, sign-in required).
ESA's Science Programme Committee have agreed to adopt PLATO into the Science Programme moving forwards. Mission adoption is a big milestone for PLATO, and marks the move from a blueprint mission into a fully-realised concern.
This decision is just reward for all of the hard work put in by the PLATO team over the last several years.
A research team led by PSM member Andrew Miglio (University of Birmingham) has published a white paper on the pre-print arXiv that describes how PLATO can contribute to the field of Galactic archaeology.
They identify key outstanding questions related to the formation and evolution of the Milky Way. Answering these questions requires precise, accurate ages for large samples of stars, such as those that will be provided by PLATO's asteroseismic data (through WP12, Stellar Science). They demonstrate that the capabilities of PLATO are such that answering their key questions is possible.
The paper can be found on ADS.
PLATO Week 3 took place at MPSSR in Göttingen between the 13th and 15th of March 2017. There were many sessions of relevance to the PSM:
- An overview of PSM activities since the last meeting, presented by the PSM Coordinator, Don Pollacco.
- A joint PSM-PDC plenary session, which included presentations on the L1 on-ground processing chain, Exoplanet Science and Stellar Science requirements on L1 data, and a working model for interactions between the two bodies.
- A splinter session on candidate ranking and follow-up
- A splinter session on PMC System Wide tools, with reference to PSM tools for content management, version control, action items, and requirement tracking moving forwards.
- A splinter session on the PDC Database organisation
- A splinter session on support tools for data analysis.
The presentations from these sessions, and from all of the other sessions at PLATO Week 3, can be found at the meeting's webpage, and through the detailed information for this news item.
PLATO Week 2 took place at ASI in Rome between the 8th and 10th of November 2016. The PSM held several joint sessions with the PDC, during which discussions focussed on the high-level schedule for developing the on-ground data processing pipeline.
Minutes for the PSM-PDC sessions can be found on the Publications page, along with the slides that were shown during the meeting.