Countdown to the galactic census: Europe's billion-star surveyor is ready for launch
27 November 2013
On 19 December 2013, Europe’s billion-star surveyor is due to be launched into space where it will embark on its mission to create a highly accurate 3D map of our galaxy.
Artit's impression of Gaia
Image by European Space Agency
By repeatedly observing a billion stars with its billion-pixel video camera, the Gaia mission will allow astronomers to determine the origin and evolution of our galaxy while also testing gravity, mapping our inner solar system, and uncovering tens of thousands of previously unseen objects, including asteroids in our solar system, planets around nearby stars, and supernovae in other galaxies.
The Astrophysics Group in the University of Bristol's School of Physics has received a grant from the UK Space Agency to further develop the data-handling software authored by Dr Mark Taylor to access the data from the Gaia mission.