Göttingen / Paris How do planets form? Is life possible on them? With a year-long project astronomers want to search in space for planets that are similar to Earth.
A new space probe named “Plato” I seek the European Space Agency (Esa) to twins on earth. “Plato will discover planets like the Earth, which provide the necessary conditions for life,” said Prof. Laurent Gizon, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Göttingen. The probe is to leave no later than 2024 on board a Soyuz. The MPS is working on the originally planned six-year mission.
“Plato” is to keep using 34 telescopes and cameras at about one million stars looking for planets. The data should allow to calculate the mass and radius of the planet, which is sufficient to draw conclusions on their composition.
“Plato’s discoveries will help to compare the structure of our solar system with other planetary systems,” said Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
headed the mission by the German Aerospace Center (DLR / Cologne). Prof. Heike Rauer from the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, added: “We will find planets around their sun-like star in the habitable, the habitable zone: planet on whose surface water may be present and where perhaps even the development of life as we know it, would be possible. “