ESA's PLATO mission has been given the green light to continue its development after a successful critical review on January 11, 2022.
PLATO, or PLANetary Transits and Oscillations of stars, is the third medium-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision program. Its objective is to find and study a large number of planetary systems, with a focus on the properties of Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around solar-type stars. PLATO has also been designed to study stellar oscillations through asteroseismology, which will allow precise measurement of the parameters of the planets' host stars, including their age.
The review verified the maturity of the entire space segment (the service module and the payload module), confirming the robustness of the satellite-payload interfaces and the payload development schedule. Particular emphasis was placed on the serial production of the 26 cameras, and the robustness of the development schedule for both modules. PLATO will use the 26 cameras to discover and characterize exoplanets orbiting stars similar to our Sun.
ESA has adopted Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey), the 4th medium-class space mission of its Cosmic Vision program. Ariel is expected to be launched in 2029 by Ariane 6 from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou. The French team, composed of CNES, CEA and CNRS, has taken charge of the design, production and delivery of the AIRS spectrometer. Pierre Olivier Lagage, astrophysicist at Irfu, is one of the 2 co-PI for the ARIEL consortium; the other co-PI is Jean-Philippe Beaulieu from IAP.
On May 18th 2020, ESO formally closed the preliminary design review of the ELT/METIS thermal infrared instrument. Following this important milestone, the instrument enters into the final design phase (phase C) in which the its design will be frozen just before its building.
The SPICA infrared space telescope has been shortlisted by the European Space Agency (ESA) to participate in the final competition which will see in September 2021 the choice of the next mission of medium size ESA (M5 mission). SPICA is a large infrared telescope (diameter 2.5 m) fully cooled to a temperature of only a few degrees above absolute zero. This concept was proposed to ESA as part of the competition for the M5 mission of the "Cosmic Vision" program (25 proposals submitted) by a consortium of European research laboratories led by Holland in close collaboration with the space agency Japan (JAXA), and in which the CEA (Département d'Astrophysique of CEA-Irfu), the CNRS and their associated universities participate in France with the support of CNES.
See the French version for more : La mission SPICA en compétition pour l'ESA
The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) consortium brings together 1300 scientists from 32 countries. They have published their scientific aims in a document over 200 pages long. This is the result of several years of work, and includes contributions from approximately fifteen Irfu researchers involved in X-ray and gamma-ray observatories (Fermi, Integral, XMM-Newton, H.E.S.S., etc.).