Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ESA selects prime contractor for Gaia astrometry mission

12.05.2006


During a ceremony held in Toulouse on 11 May 2006, ESA officially awarded EADS Astrium the contract to develop and build the Gaia satellite. The goal of this space mission, currently planned for launch in 2011, is to make the largest, most precise map of our own Galaxy to date.



The contract, worth 317 million Euros, has been jointly signed by ESA’s Director of Science, Professor David Southwood, and Antoine Bouvier, Chief Executive Officer for EADS Astrium. The Toulouse branch will lead the Gaia development.

“GAIA is our next grand challenge – to understand our galactic home, the Milky Way,” says David Southwood. “It is a great privilege to meet the team in EADS Astrium and to wish them well in working with us in this great project.”


Gaia will be the most accurate optical astronomy satellite ever built so far. It will continuously scan the sky for at least five years from a point in space known as the second Lagrangian point (or L2), located at about 1.6 million kilometres away from the Earth, in the direction opposite to the Sun. This position in space offers a very stable thermal environment, very high observing efficiency (since the Sun, Earth and Moon are behind the instrument field of view) and a low radiation environment.

Gaia’s goal is to perform the largest census of our Galaxy and build a highly accurate 3D map. The satellite will determine the position, colour and true motion of one thousand million stars. Gaia will also identify as many as 10 000 planets around other stars, and discover several tens of thousands of new bodies - comets and asteroids - in our own Solar System.

The accuracy of Gaia measurements will be extremely high - if Gaia were on the Moon, it could measure the thumbnail of a person on Earth! The spacecraft will use the global astronomy concept successfully demonstrated on its predecessor – ESA’s mission Hipparcos, also built by EADS Astrium - which successfully mapped over 100,000 stars in the late 1980s.

Gaia will be equipped with a latest-generation scientific payload, integrating the most sensitive telescope ever made. Its design is based on silicon carbide (SiC) technology, also used on Herschel, ESA’s next infrared mission. The focal plane is of impressive dimensions - about half a square metre - and features one thousand million pixels.

Gaia will also be equipped with two key components. The first one is a deployable sun-shield, covering an area of one hundred square metres, to minimise the temperature fluctuations on the highly sensitive optics. The second is a new micro-propulsion system, to be used to smoothly control the spacecraft in order not to disturb the optics during the sky scanning.

Rudolf Schmidt | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM9OT8ATME_index_0.html

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New epidemic management system combats monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria
15.12.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

nachricht Gecko adhesion technology moves closer to industrial uses
13.12.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>