European Space Agency will send PLATO Observatory into space
Of course, at this observatory there will be no scientists-astronomers, radiophysicists and other specialists. PLATO is an autonomous spacecraft that will search for potentially habitable exoplanets in deep space. The research method is observation of the brightness of millions of stars adjacent to the solar system, and analysis of changes in the brightness of the stars.
PLATO is equipped with 34 small telescopes and cameras for observing stars. The main way to detect exoplanets at the present time is to fix the change in brightness of the star during the passage of the planet in front of the star’s disk. Those. the planet is between the observer and his star, as a result of which the observer, recording changes in the brightness of the star, can confidently talk about the presence of such a luminous planet.
Of course, this type of observation has its own peculiarities - after all, the brightness of stars changes not only due to the influence of the planets. Nevertheless, constant observation and analysis of neighboring stars allows you to "separate the grains from the chaff", that is, to detect exoplanets.
PLATO data will be combined with observations from ground-based observatories. As a result, scientists will be able to recognize the radius, mass and density of exoplanets.
PLATO will be launched on Soyuz media from French Guiana. The orbit of PLATO will be similar to the orbit of another space station watching the stars - Gaia. True, the observatory will be launched only in 2024. First, Solar Orbiter and Euclid will be launched in 2017 and 2020.