PLATO: The ESA Cosmic Vision planetray system characterizer
I present a general overview of the PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) space mission. PLATO was approved by ESA’s Science Programme Committee, together with Euclid and Solar Orbiter missions, to enter the so-called definition phase, i.e. the step required before the final decision is taken (only two missions will be implemented). To be launched in 2018, PLATO is a third generation mission, which will take advantage of the scientific return from the currently flying space missions CoRoT (CNES, ESA, launched in 2006), and Kepler (NASA, launched in 2009). Moreover, the preparation and exploitation of the missions will benefit from the GAIA (ESA) mission data, together with new generation ground-based instrumentation like North-HARPS, GIANO, CARMENES, etc. Finally, I summarize the current organization status of the mission,focusing on the Spanish role within the consortium.