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Waspie_Dwarf

GAIA soon to map the Milky Way

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GAIA soon to map the Milky Way

Gaia is a global space astrometry mission. Its goal is to make the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy by surveying an unprecedented number of stars - more than a thousand million.

Gaia will conduct a census of a thousand million stars in our Galaxy, monitoring each of its target stars about 70 times over a five-year period. It will precisely chart their positions, distances, movements, and changes in brightness. It is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of new celestial objects, such as extra-solar planets and failed stars called brown dwarfs. Within our own Solar System, Gaia should also observe hundreds of thousands of asteroids.

Gaia is currently being prepared in Toulouse and expected to be shipped to Kourou this summer for its flight on top of a Soyuz launcher from Europe's Space port in French Guiana.

This video explains Gaia's mission with interviews with Giuseppe Sarri, Gaia Project Manager, ESA and Timo Prusti, Gaia Project Scientist, ESA.

Credit: ESA

Source: ESA - Space in Videos

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Gaia scanning the sky

This animation shows the Gaia spacecraft spinning in space scanning the sky.

Gaia’s mission relies on the systematic and repeating observation of star positions in two fields of view. As the detectors repeatedly measure the position of each celestial object, they will detect any changes in the object’s motion through space.

To achieve its mission the spacecraft is spinning slowly, sweeping its two telescopes across the entire celestial sphere to make four complete rotations per day.

Gaia’s telescopes point at two different portions of the sky, separated by a constant 106.5°. Therefore, objects arrive in the second field of view 106.5 minutes after they are observed in the first.

Meanwhile its spin axis precesses around the Sun with a period of about 63 days, allowing different parts of the sky to be scanned. This scanning strategy builds up an interlocking grid of positions, providing absolute – rather than relative – values of the stellar positions and motions.

The spacecraft spin axis makes an angle of 45° with the Sun direction, ensuring that the payload is shaded from the Sun, but that the solar arrays can still produce electricity efficiently.

Credit: ESA – C. Carreau

Source: ESA - Space in Videos

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