|237 Dec 19, 2013||Gaia launched!|
On 19 December 2013 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET) Gaia lifted off on a Soyuz rocket from the ESA Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, and is now travelling to L2. Up there 1 billion stars (in the Galaxy and beyond) wait to be observed by the satellite and their brightness, positions, motion, distance and astrophysical characteristics to be measured, to produce the richest 3D map of the sky ever realized.
We are eager to see the expected and, even more, the unexpected results that Gaia will produce.
Gaia will provide the detailed 3D distributions and space motions of a billion stars, brighter than 20th magnitude. The astrometric precision, reaching a few millionths of an arcsecond, will be unprecedented. This will allow our Galaxy to be mapped, for the first time, in three dimensions. Ten million stars will be measured with a distance accuracy of better than 1 percent and a 150 million to better than 10 percent. Compared to Hipparcos, Gaia will improve parallax and proper-motion accuracy by almost 100 times and the number of stars observed by 10 000 times. In addition it will measure radial velocities and spectrophotometry for the sources. Gaia will survey a vast population of solar system bodies (major planets, natural satellites, comets, and asteroids, including several thousands of near-Earth objects) and extragalactic objects (half a million quasars and thousands of supernovae). In addressing all these fields, Gaia will cover a significant part of modern astrophysics.
The Gaia catalogue will be one of the largest and richest astronomical catalogue ever realized.
The ASDC (ASI Science Data Center) coordinates the Italian contribution to DPAC-CU9, the coordination unit responsible for the realization of the Catalogue and for the release of the Gaia data. In the framework of a wide international collaboration, ASDC will host a copy of the Gaia catalogue and will contribute to CU9 activities. ASDC is responsible in CU9 for the cross-match of the Gaia catalogue with the largest public available optical and near-IR catalogues, as well as several other catalogues from radio to gamma-ray, ensuring an all-sky, multi-wavelength and multi-color vision of the Galaxy. In addition, ASDC is developing access and data mining tools to enable the astronomical community to handle and fully exploit the scientific potential of this enormous archive.
In addition, ASDC is building the archive and database which will host the Gaia ancillary data obtained by the Italian teams involved in the project. This archive will include the measurements, observations and simulations needed for the absolute calibration of the Gaia spectro-photometric data. The archive is helping the work of the calibration team and will then be public.
Finally ASDC is involved in DPAC-CU5 (responsible for the spectro-photometric data analysis and reduction) activities, namely the realization of the crowded fields analysis software and the data reduction of the photometric data needed for the validation of the Gaia spectro-photometric standards.
ASI press release : http://www.asi.it/it/news/al_via_la_missione_gaia
INAF press release : http://www.media.inaf.it/2013/12/19/gaia-appuntamento-con-la-storia/
ESA press release : http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Gaia/Liftoff_for_ESA_s_billion-star_surveyor