PLATO (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) is the third medium-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme. Its objective is to find and study a large number of extrasolar planetary systems, with emphasis on the properties of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone around solar-like stars, and smaller ones.

PLATO has also been designed to investigate seismic activity in stars, enabling the precise characterization of the planet host star, including its mass, radius and age. The collection of this information is mandatory in order to properly characterize the planets, as well as for testing the accuracy and reliability of the theoretical stellar evolution scenario.

One of the main targets of the PLATO mission are very low-mass stars, also named M-dwarfs. These stars are characterized by peculiar physical conditions and they are also the more abundant stellar objects in the Galaxy. In addition, the detection of earth-like planets orbiting around M-dwarfs is expected to be a more easy task with respect the case of solar-like stars. This opportunity makes M dwarf stars, wonderful targets for the discovery of Earth-like, extra-solar planets within the habitable zone of their hosting stars.

In our institute, there is a group of researchers very active in this field; they are leading the PLATO working package devoted to the development of the theoretical stellar evolution scenario for M dwarf stars. This project is obviously still on-going, and some preliminary interesting results have been already obtained.