The Gaia Space Observatory
You guys probably know by now that I love writing about telescopes. I wrote not too long ago about my favorite up and coming ground based telescope The Giant Magellan Telescope, so if you haven’t read that then scoot on over and read it here, you will quickly become just as excited as I was.
So heres another exciting observatory under development. Only this time it goes in space - The Gaia Space Observatory - Let me tell you about it
This is an amazing mission that will conduct the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy a census of a thousand million stars in our Galaxy. It will monitor each of its target stars about 70 times during a five-year period, precisely charting their positions, distances, movements, and changes in brightness. Gaia is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of new celestial objects, such as extra-solar planets and brown dwarfs and quasars. Within our own Solar System, Gaia should also observe hundreds of thousands of asteroids. The spacecraft will also develop new tests for Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
Gaia contains two optical telescopes that can precisely determine the location of stars and split their light into a spectrum for analysis. The spacecraft itself can be divided into two sections: the payload module and the service module. The payload consists of the telescopes and three instruments. The service module contains the propulsion system, the communications units and other essential components that allow the spacecraft to function and return data to Earth. Beneath the service module and the payload module is the sunshield and solar array assembly.
Gaia will achieve its goals by repeatedly measuring the positions of all objects down to magnitude 20 (about 400 000 times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye). Onboard object detection will ensure that variable stars, supernovae, other transient celestial events and minor planets will all be detected and catalogued to this faint limit. For all objects brighter than magnitude 15 (4000 times fainter than the naked eye limit), Gaia will measure their positions to an accuracy of 24 microarcseconds - that is comparable to measuring the diameter of a human hair at a distance of 1000 km. It will allow the nearest stars to have their distances measured to the extraordinary accuracy of 0.001%. Even stars near the Galactic centre, some 30 000 light-years away, will have their distances measured to within an accuracy of 20%.
Gaia will launch on a Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT launch vehicle from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The spacecraft will observe in an orbit around the Sun in a spot called the L2 Lagrangian point, offering a clearer and more steady view of the cosmos.
"Gaia’s expected scientific harvest is of almost inconceivable extent and implication. Its main goal is to clarify the origin and evolution of our Galaxy. In addition, it will test theories of star formation and evolution. This is possible because low-mass stars are extremely long-lived and retain a fossil record of their origin in the composition of their atmospheres."
"Gaia will identify which stars are relics from smaller galaxies long ago ‘swallowed’ by the Milky Way. By watching for the large-scale motion of stars in our Galaxy, it will probe the distribution of dark matter, the hypothetical substance thought to hold our Galaxy together. In addition, Gaia will establish the range of brightnesses that forming stars can possess; detect and categorise rapid evolutionary phases in stars; place unprecedented constraints on the age, internal structure and evolution of all stars, and classify star formation and kinematical and dynamical behaviour within the Local Group of galaxies."
This is an amazing spacecraft. One that will provide the most precise view of our Milky Way ever made. Along with observing hundreds upon thousands of celestial objects. It is my strong belief that this piece of technology will open up our eyes to more cosmic discoveries and mysteries than ever before.
Info-Graphic about ESA’s Gaia Mission, for Uni project
Our entire world history nailed.
Things which remain consistant - Sex, death and war
One of the greatest posts ever.
I brought this up in Philosophy the other day.
what if every time you messed up a physics problem instead of just being wrong the universe altered itself to compensate for your mistake. like you’re all sitting in class when suddenly every crashes into the ceiling because “DAMMIT JIMMY GRAVITY IS NEGATIVE 9.8!” and they made laws preventing dumb people from trying to science and terrorists just ran around scribbling incorrect equations and people survived gunshots by miscalculating momentum and you know just what if.
Maggie Stiefvater (via beingascripturient)