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The PLATO field selection process. I. Identification and content of the long-pointing fields

Abstract : PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars is an ESA M-class satellite planned for launch by the end of 2026 and dedicated to the wide-field search of transiting planets around bright and nearby stars, with a strong focus on discovering habitable rocky planets hosted by solar-like stars. The choice of the fields to be pointed at is a crucial task since it has a direct impact on the scientific return of the mission. In this paper, we describe and discuss the formal requirements and the key scientific prioritization criteria that have to be taken into account in the Long-duration Observation Phase (LOP) field selection, and apply a quantitative metric to guide us in this complex optimization process. We identify two provisional LOP fields, one for each hemisphere (LOPS1 and LOPN1), and we discuss their properties and stellar content. While additional fine-tuning shall be applied to LOP selection before the definitive choice, which is set to be made two years before launch, we expect that their position will not move by more than a few degrees with respect to what is proposed in this paper.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 13, 2022 - 1:57:28 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, May 15, 2022 - 3:33:32 AM

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V. Nascimbeni, G. Piotto, A. Börner, M. Montalto, P. M. Marrese, et al.. The PLATO field selection process. I. Identification and content of the long-pointing fields. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2022, 658, ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/202142256⟩. ⟨insu-03667475⟩

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