ESA will launch in 2026 telescope for the search «twins» of the Earth

© Photo : MPS/ Mark A. GarlickТак the artist has imagined a planet and a star, which can open the telescope PLATOESA will launch in 2026 telescope for the search «twins» of the Earth© Photo : MPS/ Mark A. Garlick

The European space Agency today approved plans for building a telescope PLATO, whose main objective will be to find doubles of the Earth and the habitable exoplanets, according to the press service of the Institute for the study of the solar system max Planck.

«Observing «vibrations» of the stars, PLATO will first fully characterize their properties and determine their age, mass and dimensions, and calculate all these parameters for the planets. The emergence of such capabilities will revolutionize the search for exoplanets,» said Laurent Gizon (Laurent Gizon), project leader PLATO at ESA.

Plans to create a probe PLATO was born in ESA in February 2014, when the idea to create a new orbital telescope to search for exoplanets has found support from Agency management. Over the next three years members of the research team PLATO developed a detailed plan of the Observatory and a set of tools that will be installed.

Today, these plans were officially approved by the leadership of ESA, and now the team PLATO can build a space Observatory. Current plans of the Agency, the probe will be launched into orbit in 2026 with the help of rocket «Soyuz» from Kourou in French Guiana. It will last at least four years and, scientists expect, will measure physical characteristics of hundreds of stars and open dozens of new planets.

PLATO will observe stars, tracking the weak, but regular decrease in their brightness suggests that before the star passes its planet. The Observatory will also monitor about a million stars with 26 telescopes and cameras mounted on a single space platform.

PLATO observations, coupled with ground-based measurements of the Doppler shift of the spectrum of exoplanets — change of the wavelength due to motion relative to the Earth — will allow you to calculate the mass and size of exoplanets and their density, which will allow to judge about the composition and potential habitability.

One of the predecessors of PLATO was the European CoRoT orbital telescope, which has discovered 32 exoplanets and finished its work in June 2013.