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ESA Spacecraft Brings Search For Habitable Exoplanets Closer To Home

The planet-hunting telescope will be the first to look for earthlike exoplanets orbiting neighboring stars.
Posted at 2:36 PM, Jun 22, 2017

We've found thousands of exoplanets orbiting distant stars, but astronomers still don't know if any are habitable. The European Space Agency's PLATO mission hopes to change that.

The Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars mission will look specifically for earthlike, habitable planets. It will also be the first planet-hunting spacecraft to see if nearby stars are candidates.

Other missions like NASA's Kepler found thousands of exoplanets, but the worlds tend to be too far away to be measured in detail.

PLATO will measure stars' and planets' mass, radius and age. Knowing these details can help astronomers determine which planets might be able to support life.

The European Space Agency recently said it has started construction on PLATO, which is scheduled to launch in 2026 aboard a Soyuz rocket.