Countdown to launch
The current schedule for the mission, as of October 2018, is as follows:
PLATO was formally adopted by ESA in June 2017.
The PLATO Mission Consortium (PMC) is currently in phase C of the payload development. The ground segment are ramping up activities in preparation for the Ground Segment Requirements Review in Q4 2021.
Current efforts of the PSM are focused on
- Double-checking our evaluation of the performance of the onboard data processing
- Updating and clarifying the sub-system requirements for PLATO data processing, particularly the exoplanet and stellar analysis systems.
- Definition of validation tasks, and of requirements for the data analysis support tools
- Configuration management
- Development of the document tree for the PSM
This phase of the mission kicked off in June 2019 and has seen changes in the organisation of the consortium, along with increased involvement from ESA personnel.
From the ground segment perspective, early Phase C involved an internal, PMC-led review of the Level 2 and Level 3 ground data processing requirements. This was very productive, and provided a valuable check on progress in this area ahead of GSRQR. The review was a great success, and closed out in early 2020.
Work is currently focused on two major reviews. For the ground segment, preparations for the first major review, GSRQR in Q4 2021, are well underway. For the payload, the focus is on the ESA Critical Milestone Review in summer 2021.
Phase B2 included Preliminary Design Reviews (PDRs) for many aspects of the mission. The unit PDRs were a major undertaking by the whole consortium. The outcomes of the reviews were mostly positive, and though there were several hundred pieces of feedback, many of which led to Action Items, the overall outlook for the mission following the conclusion of the PDRs was very good.
The Software PDR also took place, and was again successfully passed.
In phase B1, both the PDCR and PSRR were passed, with some very useful feedback received from ESA and the external reviewers regarding various aspects of the PMC setup and progress to that point.
Owing to various concerns, ESA slightly reduced the scope of the baseline mission from it's original incarnation. PLATO will have 24 telescopes (with 2 additional 'fast' telescopes), and will have a baseline mission duration of 4 years (though a mission extension is still available). No significant impact on science is anticipated.