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Who are the PSM?

PSM Coordinator & Exoplanet Science

Leader: Don Pollacco (University of Warwick, UK)

Don Pollacco is a Professor of Astrophysics in the Physics Department of the University of Warwick. He led the development of the WASP project (Wide Angle Search for Planets) from its inception in 2000 until recently. During this time WASP became the most successful ground based planet detection project with currently more than 60 confirmed planets. As such he has been intimately involved in all aspects of the project ranging from project infrastructure (both hardware and software) through to follow-up organisation and the publication of results. Planet discoveries from the project received the Times/CNN accolade of being the 6th most important discovery in all of science in 2007. Pollacco received the Team Prize of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2010 on behalf of the WASP Consortium for contributions to Astronomy. He is also PI of PLATO-UK and is well known to the UK Space and Research Agencies as he serves on several of their advisory committees. The Exoplanet WP leaders are all renowned experts in their fields and make significant contributions both within the CoRoT project, WASP and other successful projects.

Top-level Work Package leaders: Juan Cabrera (DLR, Germany); Isabella Pagano (OACT, Italy); Magali Deleuil (LAM, France); Szilard Csizmadia (DLR, Germany); Don Pollacco (Warwick, UK); Heike Rauer (DLR, Germany); Nuno Santos (CAUP, Portugal)

Stellar Science

Leader: Marie-Jo Goupil (LESIA, Paris Observatory, France)

Marie-Jo Goupil is an astronomer at the Observatory of Paris in the LESIA department (Laboratoire d'Etude Spatiales et Instrumentales en Astrophysique). She leads the team responsible for the stellar physics and seismology team named ETOILE. Her main research field is stellar physics, stellar pulsation theory and asteroseismology. She is responsible for an ANR project (SEISMOLOGY, ROTATION and CONVECTION), which involves 3 teams from different parts of France. She was involved in the foundation of the PNPS (National program of Stellar Physics), which depends on the French national agency INSU. MJG was the president of the scientific committee of the PNPS for the period 2002-2006. She has expertise in organizing seismic space missions as she organized the seismic science WP of the unfortunate space mission EVRIS, she was involved in the science definition of the CoRoT mission from the very beginning providing scientific specifications for the seismic part of CoRoT and contributing to the choice of target stars. She presently works on the theoretical interpretation of CoRoT and Kepler data. The leaders of the Stellar Science WPs are internationally known for having all the expertise necessary to achieve the WP goals. They come from several different countries and have been chosen in order to cover the necessary scientific fields to be developed. The costs associated with the achievements of these goals will be funding by national agencies of the respective countries.

Top-level Work Package leaders: Aldo Serenelli (CSIC-IEEC, Spain); Thierry Morel (Liège, Belgium); Antonino Lanza (OACT, Italy); Margarida Cunha (CAUP, Portugal); Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard (Aarhus, Denmark); Jérôme Ballot (IRAP, France); Benoit Mosser (Obs. Paris, France); Bill Chaplin (Birmingham, UK); Rhita-Maria Ouazzani (Obs. Paris, France)

Field / Target Characterisation & Selection

Leader: Giampaolo Piotto (University of Padova, Italy)

Giampaolo Piotto is a professor at the Department of Astronomy of the University of Padova. He is Director of the Doctoral School in Astronomy, and deputy Director of the Department of Astronomy. His main research field is on stellar populations in star clusters and observation of extrasolar planets. He is author of more than 150 papers in international refereed journals, with more than 6300 citations. He has been national PI of two PRIN (Research Projects of National Interest), and is successfully coordinating an international team for the study of stellar populations in globular clusters. He started to switch scientific interests towards exoplanets about 8 years ago, with a project on planet transits in star clusters, and he is presently responsible of the TASTE project for exoplanet search using the TTV method. He has been a member of the ESA/Eddington Science Team. He is a member of the Science Team of HARPS-N, an instrument developed for the radial velocity follow-up of Kepler planet candidates. Within PLATO, Giampaolo Piotto is responsible for the field and target selection and characterization (PLATO Input Catalogue - PIC). Giampaolo Piotto has the needed expertise to coordinate the PIC scientific activities. He already coordinated the group who selected the optimal field for the Eddington project (Barbieri et al., 2004, ESASP, 538, 163). Giampaolo Piotto is responsible for the ASI contract for the Italian participation to PLATO mission.

Top-level Work Package leaders: Valerio Nascimbeni (OAPD, Italy); Marco Montalto (OAPD, Italy); Ricardo Claudi (OAPD, Italy)


Leader: Stéphane Udry (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland)

Stéphane Udry is professor at, and head of, the Astronomy department of the Geneva University (Geneva Observatory), where he is leading the exoplanet group, world leader in the measurement of stellar precise radial velocities. His main research field is the detection and characterization of extra-solar planets. He has experience in conducting or collaborating with large planet-search programmes in both hemispheres with the HARPS, Coralie, and Sophie spectrographs. He is also active in the radial-velocity follow-up of the SuperWASP and CoRoT projects. He is Co-I and member of the science team i) of HARPS-North, a copy of the high-resolution HARPS spectrograph especially developed for the follow-up of the Kepler targets, ii) of the TESS project (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), and iii) of SPHERE, an extreme AO instrument aiming at the direct imaging of extra-solar planets with the VLT. Stéphane Udry is also a member of the ESPRESSO consortium, a super-stable high-resolution spectrograph for the VLT aiming at reaching a precision below 10 cm/s for radial velocity measurements. He will coordinate the follow-up activities of the PLATO mission.

Top-level Work Package leaders: Don Pollacco (Warwick, UK); Francois Bouchy (Obs. Geneva, Switzerland); Roi Alonso (IAC, Spain); Silvano Desidera (OAPD, Italy); Xavier Bonfils (IPAG, France); Artie Hatzes (TLS, Germany); Stéphane Udry (Obs. Geneva, Switzerland)

Complementary Science

Leader: Conny Aerts (University of Leuven, Belgium)

Manager: Andrew Tkachenko (University of Leuven, Belgium)

Conny Aerts is a professor at the University of Leuven, Belgium, where she is director of the Institute of Astronomy, and the vice-Dean of Communication and Outreach. She also holds a partial professorship at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, where she leads the chair ‘Asteroseismology’. Her research activities include broad fields of stellar physics, including stellar structure, stellar evolution, variable stars, and asteroseismology, covering many different types of stars. She is one of the pioneers of the research domain of asteroseismology, which has received major attention since the launch and operations of the MOST (2003), CoRoT (2006), and Kepler (2009) space missions. Prior to the era of high-precision, space-based photometry she focused on high-precision spectroscopy, developing rigorous mathematical methods to detect and identify non-radial pulsation modes in optically bright stars. Her team has developed substantial expertise in database mining, with the design and application of statistical classification methods based on multivariate Gaussian mixtures. This led to the discovery and interpretation of numerous new gravity-mode pulsators in the Hipparcos, CoRoT, and Kepler databases, after intensive ground-based multi-site spectroscopic follow-up campaigns.

Top-level Work Package leaders: John Southworth (Keele, UK); Conny Aerts (Leuven, Belgium); Coralie Neiner (Obs. Paris, France); Sergio Simón-Díaz (IAC, Spain); Manuel Güdel (Vienna, Austria); Saskia Hekker (Goettingen, Germany); Peter Jonker (SRON, Netherlands); Samaya Nissanke (Radboud, Netherlands); Ennio Porretti (Brera, Italy)