A new tool to search for life
The study of planets orbiting around distant stars, yavlyaetsI the most interesting topic of science of the 21st century. One of the main goals of this study is to investigate the properties of Earth-like worlds, located not very far from the sun. Simply put, it is the task or planets suitable for our habitat. And for that, the European Space Agency launches new mission PLATO.
Running missii scheduled for 2024, and the processing of the results - verification of the characteristics of Earth-like planets discovered lying at a similar distance from its star (in the habitable zone) will be made over the next three years of data collection.
So far, no Earth-like exoplanet was found in the habitable zone.PLATO will be avant-garde in search of new worlds for possible future human habitation.
Running PLATO will allow the first systematic review of the most close planets for the presence of any form of life on them, from the simplest mucus to advanced civilizations. Twenty years ago it would have sounded like sciencefiction, and is now perceived as a scientific fact.
"With PLATO will a new era in the study of exoplanets" - confidently says Dr. Heike Ryer of the German Aerospace Center. &Laquo; We'll find planets orbiting stars in the habitable zone of - &Nbsp; planets that might eats liquid water, and somewhere, perhaps familiar to us life. "
The spacecraft will accurately measure the characteristics (size, weight, age) found planets and planetary systems, to carry out a detailed comparison with our solar system.
"In the last two decades found more than a thousand exoplanetsmany of them "live" in the mnogoplanetnyh systems, but the properties of these systems are very different from ours. PLATO accurately answer the question, whether there are systems like solar, and how Earth-like planets are common in the galaxy "- says Ryer.
Search planets will be conducted by measuring the periodic cleversheniya brightness of starlight when a planet passes in front of the star. PLATO also measure tiny changes in the light from a star caused by small fluctuations in the stars themselves, performing tasks asteroseismology. Just as in seismology Earth these variations indicate an internal structure of a vibrating body. Asteroseismology will allow us to find out the ageak vibrating stars and planets revolving in their orbits in this star system.
PLATO - a completely new type of space technology for observing planets: it will use the not a single lens or a mirror, and a whole array of 34 telescopes with an aperture of 12 cm and a high- qualitychambers are. Individual telescopes can operate in standalone mode, and in the complex, which will lead to an unprecedented opportunity to watch and a bright star, and being close to her dim objects - planets. Observations from space will go, without interruption of the sunrise, and there will be no smearing of image caused by aEffect of the Earth's atmosphere. With these unique tools mission will be able to find a planet the size of Earth are similar to or slightly less separated from the star at a distance similar to the distance from the Earth to the sun. So far we only know a few of these exoplanets. In contrast to previous missions, PLATO will focus on these planets that kato expected to resemble in their properties Earth, Venus, Mars.
The measurement of the radius and the mass of extrasolar planets will allow us in the first stage to determine what is a godsend - gas, low density giant or a rocky planet with a metal core. Without such information, the possible existence of life on the planet can not be determined. While fland the main parameters are not known precisely enough for most exoplanets found.
During the planned mission (6 years), PLATO will observe one million stars. This is a large number of observed objects gives hope for the open probability and measure the characteristics of the many thousands of planets orbiting otherstars. Recall the Drake equation which estimates the number of possible existing civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy. But PLATO will scan and watch almost half of the sky, including the brightest and nearest star.
The satellite will be located in one of the Lagrange points, where the gravitational pull of the SunEarth and cancel each other, so that the machine remains at this point in a certain fixed position.