ESA is overseeing construction of the PLATO satellite by OHB (Bremen, Germany). The satellite will have a launch mass of 2,165 kg, including enough fuel for an 8½-year mission. Its K-band communications system will transmit science data at a rate of 72 Mbps. The solar panels will deliver 2,200 W of power.

The payload comprises an optical bench accommodating 26 cameras and control electronics. The necessary thermal stability will be assured by the sunshield and the optical bench’s shielding. Pointing stability will be provided by the reaction wheels, thrusters, gyros, sun sensors and star trackers.

These systems are designed to minimize stray light effects and ensure that the cameras never face the Sun, which would damage them irreparably.

PLATO and its two main modules. Credits: OHB System AG

Cutaway view of PLATO. Credits: OHB System AG

Dimensions: 3.4 m × 3.3 m × 3.8 m