News 2006



Postdoc position on Gaia data processing (Heidelberg, Germany)
A postdoc position is available at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, to work on preparations for the Gaia data processing. The position involves the development of algorithms for astrophysical classification and parameter estimation using Gaia photometric, spectroscopic and astrometric data. The position is available from 15 February 2007, initially for two years, but with prospects for extension subject to performance and funding. The deadline for applications is 15 February 2007 . For more information see this web page.



GaiaTools 1.5 released
Version 1.5 of the GaiaTools software library has been released. The library is provided by CU1. Overview, installation instructions and list of major changes are in the Software Release note GAIA-C1-SP-ESAC-JSH-013. From now on the development of the library will be managed by the GaiaTools Committee containing representatives of all CUs.



Gaia Parameter Data Base updated
Version 2.2 of the Gaia Parameter Data Base has been released. This update includes, among others, a re-definition of the centre of the Field-of-View and covers the update of the Gaia Mission Requirements Document (MRD) from version 1 to version 2 and the Gaia Consolidated Report on Mission Analysis document (CReMA) from version 1.0 to 2.1. Details of the update can be found in the ChangeLog of the Parameter Data Base.



ESA issues AO for Gaia DPAC
The Announcement of Opportunity for the Gaia Data Processing has been issued by ESA today. The AO solicits proposals for the Gaia DPAC which will build and operate the Gaia data processing ground sement. Further details are available here. Deadline for submission of proposals is 11 December 2006.



GaiaSimu library released
CU2 announces the release of version 1 of the GaiaSimu library. This library is a shared set of tools and data providing consistent Universe and Instrument models for all data generators (GIBIS, GASS and GOG) developed by the CU2. GaiaSimu is the core of the development of the simulator and all future implementations/upgrades of the Universe and Instrument models to be used by CU2 will be integrated in its framework. Currently included in the library are an implementation of the Besançon Galaxy Model, a Scanning Law model and an Instrument model including optical projection, PSF generation, CCD simulation and on-board processing unit. Further details of the library are available from the CU2: GaiaSimu GaiaWiki page.



Schedule for Announcement of Opportunity for DPAC
The processing of Gaia's extensive data harvest will be a formidable and complex task, for which ESA must rely on the scientific community. To this end ESA will shortly be issuing an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for the data processing and analysis, with proposals due a month later. More information and the Science Management Plan timetable are available here.



Second meeting of CU5 held at Cambridge
The 2nd CU5 meeting was held at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge on 25 and 26 September 2006. The 20 participants, including all DU managers, finalized the DU boundaries and responsibilities, as well as the immediate schedule for the developments. Also established were arrangements for reporting and progress tracking. A summary of the meeting and a photo of the participants can be viewed here.




Two Gaia-related positions at ARI, Heidelberg (Germany)
The Astronomisches Rechen-Institut is offering one position for a software engineer / software developer and one position for an astronomer, both starting Jan 1, 2007. Funds are available from the German Aerospace Center DLR till end 2009. For further details see the announcement page on the Gaia@ARI web site. Closing date for applications for both positions is September 30, 2006.



Two Gaia-related positions at the University of Barcelona (Spain)
The University of Barcelona has two open positions to develop algorithms for the Gaia data processing. One position is for a young software engineer to work on the mission simulator (further details and application instructions for this position are available online); the other position is for a post-doc with expertise in the calibration of photometric and spectroscopic instruments (further details and application instructions for this position are available online). The contracts are for three years (with the possibility of an extension) and the starting dates are October (software engineer) and November (post-doc) 2006. Closing date for applications for both positions is September 30, 2006.



Postdoctoral position at the University of Liège (Belgium)
The High-Energy Astrophysics Group of the University of Liège (Belgium) is offering a postdoctoral position to participate in the development of algorithms and software for Gaia data processing. The successful applicant will be expected to take responsibilities in the development of algorithms and of the related software dealing with the orbital solutions for spectroscopic binary systems, with the measurements of radial velocities on the basis of Gaia spectra, as well as with investigations on the possibility of performing radial velocity measurements from multiple spectra by cross-correlation with templates. The appointment is for one year with a possible extension for a second year. The starting date is October 1st 2006 or a little earlier. Further details, including application instructions, are available online.



CU2 releases the Gaia Universe Model Snapshot (GUMS)
Coordination Unit 2 (Data Simulations) announces the release of GUMS — the Gaia Universe Model Snapshot. GUMS is a one-billion object catalogue simulation generated using GOG. The purpose of GUMS is to allow validation of the Universe Model used in the full Gaia mission simulation and to provide useful statistics for the Gaia observations. This first release is an experimental version primarily intended for testing the simulation software. Further details are available on the GaiaWiki page (CU2: GUMS).



Project Researcher / Software Engineer on Gaia data processing at Lund (Sweden)
Lund Observatory, with the support of the Swedish National Space Board, invites applications for a full-time position (initially for up to three years) as Project Researcher / Software Engineer to develop algorithms and software for processing data from the Gaia satellite. Applicants should have a background in software engineering, computer science or the physical sciences. Further details are available on the Lund web site. Closing date for applications is September 1, 2006.



Dissolution of DACC and appointment of DPAC Executive
At the 17th meeting of the GST (14 - 15 June) the DACC was officially dissolved (having successfully fulfilled its role), marking the transition to the Gaia DPAC (Data Processing and Analysis Consortium), the community that will prepare for and perform the data processing of Gaia's telemetry. The executive body of the DPAC (known as the DPACE) has been established with Francois Mignard as Chair and Ronald Drimmel as Deputy Chair. DPACE will have as its first job the organisation of the Gaia science community's response to ESA's Announcement of Opportunity for the Gaia Data Processing (expected to be released within the next few weeks). (See also the communication from the DPACE Chair and Deputy Chair.)



Fourth meeting of the DACC, 23-24 May in Lund
The main topic of the meeting was the preparation of the response to the ESA AO for the Gaia data processing and the formal start of the Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC). The DACC also agreed on the structure and role of the DPAC's executive committee. Funding issues and reports on the activities of the DPAC Coordination Units and their Data Processing Centres were also presented. Full details can be found in the meeting minutes available on Livelink.



ESA selects prime contractor for Gaia astrometry mission
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 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 of EADS Astrium will lead the Gaia development. Read more here.



Second meeting of CU7
On 3-4 April, 19 members (see group photo) of Coordination Unit 7 (Variability Processing) met at the ISDC, Geneva, to consider progress within the unit and to plan for several forthcoming milestones. Presentations about several workpackages, dealing with the detection of special variability types and general classification of variable stars, were made. Minutes of this meeting, including links to the presentations, are available from Livelink.



'High Accuracy Astrometry and Relativity' session at 11th MG meeting
The 11th Marcel Grossmann meeting (July 23-29, Berlin) will include a parallel session on High Accuracy Astrometry and Relativity. The aim of the session, convened by Sergei Klioner and François Mignard, is to provide a forum for discussing the growing interrelation between high-accuracy astrometry and the theory of relativity. The accuracy goal of missions such as Gaia makes the relativistic modelling of observations indispensable for providing a consistent interpretation of observational results. Further details about this parallel session, including the first announcement and call for presentations, are available online.



CU8 Kick-off meeting
The first meeting of CU8 Astrophysical Parameters was held in Nice on 16-17 March. It was attended by 27 people (see photo of participants), primarily the Work Package (WP) managers and representatives from other CUs. Topics covered included the objectives and work packages of the CU, the development approach and initial schedule, simulation requirements and technical interfaces with the CU8 Data Processing Centre (which is CNES). The CU leadership and the top-level WP managers have been confirmed. The minutes of the meeting are on Livelink and copies of the presentations are on the GaiaWiki.



Change in Project Scientist
After the successful selection of the industrial contractor for Phase B2/C/D of Gaia, and confirmation of the implementation and launch schedule by the Science Programme Committee, Michael Perryman stands down as ESA's project scientist for Gaia. Taking his place is Dr Fred Jansen, formerly project scientist for XMM-Newton and currently mission manager for XMM-Newton and Mars Express. He will transfer his responsibilities as XMM-Newton mission manager while maintaining his role on Mars Express. The change in project scientist is effective as of 20 March 2006.



New release of parameter data base includes Gaia-3 design
A new release (version V2-0) of the Gaia Parameter Data Base is now available. The data base is now fully in line with the EADS-Astrium Gaia-3 design. More than 1350 parameters are included, and new data base functionality in the form of vectors has been introduced. In the coming months, as the detailed design of the satellite is consolidated, a subset of parameters will undergo further changes. Access procedures to the data base are unchanged - through the MyPortal account. An accompanying acronym list has been updated and now contains 1522 entries; an acronym tool developed by José Hernandez (ESAC), which compiles a table of the acronyms used in a Latex document, is available from LiveLink. Any feedback on the parameter data base or the acronym list is welcome.



First CU3 meeting at Heidelberg
The kickoff meeting for Coordination Unit 3 (CU3, 'Core Processing'), one of the eight major subdivisions of the budding Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC), took place at Heidelberg on 23-24 February. Among the matters discussed by the participants (42 of the 49 CU3 members attended) were technical issues (related to key CU3 tasks such as the initial data treatment (IDT), the first look (FL), the astrometric core solution (AGIS) and the relativistic models and tests (REMAT)), the CU3 management structure, and the assignment of work packages to institutes and individuals. A CU3 Steering Committee consisting of seven members was established, and Uli Bastian (ARI, Heidelberg) was appointed as scientific coordinator for CU3. Further details of the meeting, including presentations, minutes, and photographs of the meeting are available online.



Registration for Java06 now open
The Gaia software development team at ESAC is organising Java06 - a workshop covering topics in the design and development of Gaia systems using Java. The workshop will be held on 27 - 28 April at ESAC, Spain. It is intended for individuals who will be developing software for CU3. Registration for this workshop opens today. Further details are available online.



CU7 kick-off meeting
The first meeting of Coordination Unit 7 (Variability Processing) was held at ISDC, Geneva on 3 February. The 28 participants (see group photo) participated in presentations and discussions on a number of topics including aspects of the functional breakdown, definition and organisation of the work packages. Minutes, including links to the presentations, are available from Livelink.



Unanimous approval for Gaia from the SPC
ESA's Science Programme Committee today unanimously approved the Gaia mission and the requested Cost at Completion. The mission now proceeds to Phase B2 with a kick-off meeting with the prime contractor EADS Astrium next week.



Postdoc position on eclipsing binaries at ULB
The Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles is offering a postdoctoral position to participate in the development of algorithms and software - related to eclipsing binaries (and potentially transiting planets) - for the Gaia data processing. The position is funded for two years with the possibility of extensions until the end of the Gaia data processing phase (around 2019). A starting date of 1 May 2006 is envisaged, but is flexible. Evaluation of candidates will begin 1 March 2006; later applications will be considered until a suitable candidate is identified. Further details are available online.



Third meeting of the Gaia DACC
The Data Analysis Coordination Committee (DACC) held its third meeting at the Observatory in Nice (OCA) on 19-20 January. Issues discussed included: the status of the Coordination Units (CUs) and the data centres; the Work Breakdown Structure of each CU; preparation for the transition of the DACC to the formal Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC); software issues for the DPAC. A photograph of the participants is available here, and the minutes are available on Livelink.



Forthcoming review meetings
The industrial contractor for Gaia for Phase B2 should be announced following the ESA Industrial Policy Committee meeting on 31 January - 1 February. Formal go-ahead for the start of this detailed design phase should be given by the ESA Science Programme Committee on 8-9 February. The Gaia Science Team will meet on 20-21 February: the GST composition for Phase B2 can be found under the Who's Who section.



ESAC team reports successful new implementation of the astrometric GIS
The ESAC Gaia science operations team announces a successful new implementation of the astrometric 'Global Iterative Solution' (GIS), results central to demonstrating the principles of the Gaia data analysis. The technical note (UL-015 by Uwe Lammers, Jose Hernandez, John Hoar, and William O'Mullane), and two associated notes describing the Agile programming approach (WOM-006) and the system architecture (WOM-004), are now available on Livelink. Under development manager William O'Mullane and core processing leader Uwe Lammers, the work started in September 2005. The system, applied to an 18-month, 1.1 million star simulation provided by the Gaia simulation team under Xavier Luri (Univ. Barcelona), 'collapses' to results close to the input data in 1 outer iteration, and converges in 4-5 outer iterations (each comprising source, attitude, and calibration steps). The total run time on the dedicated Dell 45 GFLOP machine is just 3hr per iteration, and 15 hr for 5 iterations. Lennart Lindegren (Lund Observatory) provided the AGIS mathematical framework, code, and advice during the implementation.

Back to recent News



News Archive

      Recent News
      Gaia @ ESA Science
      Gaia @ ESOC
      Gaia @ ESA