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- Fri, Dec 13, 2013 | 07:00 - 07:15 GMT | 08:00 - 08:15 CET
- Fri, Dec 13, 2013 | 16:00 - 16:15 GMT | 17:00 - 17:15 CET (REPLAY)
- ESA TV Exchange - 16:9
ESA’s billion-star surveyor, Gaia, is set to embark on a five-year mission to map the stars with unprecedented precision. It is currently scheduled for launch on board the legendary Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 09:12 GMT on Thursday 19th December 2013.
Gaia will make the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy by surveying more than a billion stars. At the end Gaia will provide a vast catalogue of celestial objects.
To achieve its mission advanced technologies in several areas had to be developed specifically for this mission.
Gaia’s two telescopes are equipped with the largest digital camera ever to be flown into space, with nearly a billion pixels. This will allow Gaia to measure the position of the stars to an accuracy of 7-300 microarcseconds. This is comparable to measuring the diameter of a human hair at a distance of 1000 km. Other measurements will assess the vital physical properties of each star, including its temperature, luminosity and composition.
Gaia is also equipped with a sunshield that will be unfolded after launch. This will act as both a sunshade to permanently shade the telescopes and allow their temperatures to drop to below –100°C, and as a power generator for the spacecraft. The underside of the shield is partially covered with solar panels and will always be facing the Sun, generating electricity to operate the spacecraft and its instruments.
This video explains the technologies developed for Gaia. It includes interviews with Giuseppe Sarri, ESA Gaia Project Manager (in English and Italian) and Vincent Poinsignon, Astrium Gaia Project Manager (in English)
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Eutelsat 9A at 9 degrees E, transponder 59, downlink frequency 11900.1 horizontally polarised, symbol rate 27,500 FEC 2/3.