Thursday, December 19, 2013

Astronomy telescope discovery machine "Gaia" launches into space - THE WORLD


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teaser image for live coverage of the GAIA-offs

discovery machine “Gaia” launches into space

The countdown is on: To clock 10.12 CET wants to shoot the astronomy telescope “Gaia” by a Soyuz rocket into space, the European Space Agency ESA. The start can be followed on the live stream.

The countdown is on: To clock 10.12 CET wants to shoot the astronomy telescope “Gaia” by a Soyuz rocket into space, the European Space Agency ESA. The start can be followed on the live stream.

Space in Europe not wait for the launch of its most advanced space telescope contrary: On board a Soyuz rocket today (10.12 clock CET) to the European astronomy telescope “Gaia” from Europe’s Spaceport Kourou in French Guiana launch into space.

Also on board is the largest digital camera ever built for space: With a resolution of almost a billion pixels it is part of a highly complex telescopic system. This research satellite is expected to re-surveyed the Milky Way and create a detailed 3D map our home galaxy.

with unprecedented accuracy of the satellites is map the positions, distances and motions of the stars and discover thousands of new expectations, according to cosmic objects, including planetary systems outside our solar system. In addition, he will observe hundreds of thousands of asteroids within our solar system.

Unprecedented Accuracy

This corresponds to the accuracy of the measurements of the brighter stars the size of a one euro coin on the moon – looked from the earth. Or in other words: “Gaia” by scientists could information a single hair from a distance of up to a thousand kilometers recognize


the European Space Operations Centre of ESA in Darmstadt is responsible for the operation and control of the satellite. Shortly after the start, the bottom team will take the first radio contact. But even if that is established, the operators in the control room will be under power, because the satellite has to complete a sensitive automatic sequence.

New technologies for flight operations

During the decisive, about four-day first phase of operation LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase) will allow the inspection team to the satellites for a minute out of sight. Particular attention is given to the moment in which “Gaia” detached from the Fregat upper stage of the Soyuz rocket. This is expected to occur 42 minutes after the start.

The “Gaia” telescope is equipped with a number of new technologies for flight operations, including micro-drive nozzles for attitude control (instead of reaction wheels) and an electronically steerable phased array antenna instead of a controllable antenna dish.

Both will be needed to meet the need for highly accurate targeting and positioning of the mission and to achieve the necessary accuracy of stargazing.

Gigantic data quantities erwaret

With its all-sky survey of the “Gaia” satellite will detect objects in space that are hundreds of thousands of times fainter than those that we can see with the naked eye. According takes the gigantic amount of data that is “Gaia” transmit to Earth: The data deluge is expected to swell to one million gigabytes over the entire duration of the mission – the equivalent of noisy ESA amount of data on approximately 200,000 DVDs


This mountain of data could make a true discovery machine and provide scientists a wealth of new research approaches “Gaia”. So could “Gaia” uncovering thousands of planets revolving around other suns, also a large number of asteroids and comets within our solar system. In addition, GAIA is expected to discover tens of thousands of exploding stars in distant galaxies, called supernovae.

brown dwarf stars on the track

Also on the difficult search for a very specific kind of faint stars is “Gaia” help: The research satellite could come tens of thousands of brown dwarf stars on the track – these are stars with too low mass to put in their interior nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in motion.

Brown dwarfs are so to speak “failed stars” – because the constant conversion of hydrogen into helium is the source of energy that emit stars such as our Sun was

Designed and built “Gaia” from the European space company Astrium, the core team is distributed in the project on France, Germany and the UK.

The space observatory consisting of two telescopes, in their common focal plane located 106 CCD detectors – together they make a camera with almost a billion pixels. For comparison: Modern mobile phone and smartphone cameras have a resolution of tens of millions of pixels, or only a little more


The Mission

Photo: picture-alliance / dpa infografik The Mission

© Axel Springer SE 2013. All rights reserved

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