The European Space Agency will be launching a new mission called PLATO (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars); the program is putting out 34 telescopes into space. The telescopes will be scanning millions of stars in search of habitable planets. This might sound similar to NASA’s Kepler mission which has already discovered over 200 confirmed exoplanets, but PLATO plans on only focusing on the more important ones that show signs of rocky terrain and liquid water. PLATO will also have more telescopes with cameras than Kepler, which will give it a wider area for a longer period of time to certain planets. It will also determine the mass and size of each planet that will then determine if the planet is rocky or not.
The mission will cost around $1 billion, and will launch in 2024 and last for six years. This mission sounds amazing, but is it really worth the time and money? $1 billion is a lot of money to find planets that we won’t be able to explore for the next 20 or so years. We could use that money and explore the moon or Mars, or do some man missions to either. Even if Europe didn’t use the $1 billion on this project for some other space program they could use it on something for the planet we live on. They could use it to create better living environments. There are devices that are being created that can help with pollution and why not invest in doing something like that?
I love space and knowing that there are thousands of planets, but do we really need to find them all?