PLATO’s ground segment will consist of three elements:
- The Mission Operations Centre (MOC) will be based at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. The MOC will control PLATO flight operations and send instrument configuration and satellite control commands. It will also receive the satellite’s telemetry.
- The Science Operations Centre (SOC) will be located at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain. The SOC will be in charge of planning and preparing for observations, as well as routine data analysis resulting in verified light curves. Most of PLATO’s data will be made public as soon as it has been compiled; only a small fraction will be available exclusively to Principal and Co-Principal Investigators at the Payload and Data Centres. These data will remain proprietary for one year.
- Several nationally funded Scientific Data Centres will handle the data processing chain responsible for generating end-products (calibrated stellar light curves) and for archiving and distributing data.
Communication with the PLATO satellite will be via X-band using the 35-metre antenna in New Norcia, Australia. The ground/satellite contact window lasts four hours every day for telecommand and communication. The rest of the day, the satellite will be fully autonomous without any contact with the ground.