It is done. The European Gaia telescope, whose mission is to map the Milky Way in 3D, was successfully launched on Thursday morning by a Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, Arianespace announced during a broadcast retransmission via Internet.
“Sequence automated review»
launcher lifted off at 9:12 GMT (6:12 hours of Guyana, 10:12 Paris time). The Gaia satellite, which will measure with unprecedented accuracy the distance of a billion stars in our galaxy, is separated from the upper stage of the rocket after 41 minutes and 59 seconds of flight. After separation, Gaia, manufactured by Astrium for the European Space Agency (ESA), has yet to make “an automated sequence critical,” according to ESA. It includes the deployment of its visor skirt, described as “very difficult” by Dave Milligan, head of operations for the ESA Gaia step.>> What will serve Gaia, the star hunter telescope?
Distinguish a hair
700 miles away
Hopefully, Gaia will be positioned approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, in a privileged location, Lagrange point 2. Its mission is to last five years in total-or six-during which the satellite locate a billion stars, each observed about 70 times. Over 99% of them have never seen their distance measured accurately.
measurement accuracy reaches 7 microseconds of arc (the arc is a sub-unit level) for the brightest stars. That is to say that Gaia would be able to distinguish a hair 700 miles away, thanks to its huge focal plane of a billion pixels.