News 2007



ELSA School on the Science of Gaia successfully concludes
The ELSA School on the Science of Gaia concluded Wednesday 28 November after 10 days of intense work for the student participants. The newly appointed ELSA Fellows were joined by students from outside the ELSA network. Scientific experts delivered lectures on the key scientific goals of Gaia, with additional lectures covering related topics such as the realization of space projects as seen from the perspective of ESA and Industry, Grid computing in the context of Gaia, and the construction of ESA's science programme. See also the article on "Preparing for Gaia with ELSA".



Vacancy notice: Software engineer/software developer at Heidelberg
The Gaia group at ARI, Heidelberg, is offering a position for a software engineer/software developer. The successful applicant will participate in the development of the Gaia First Look and other Gaia core processing tasks. The position is available from March 1, 2008. More details can be found via



System Requirements Review begins for MOC
ESA's ground segment System Requirements Review process for Gaia continues with the SRR process for the Mission Operations Centre starting today following the MOC data package delivery. This review will consider the ground segment and mission operations preparation and execution aspects which are the responsibility of ESA's Operations Directorate. The MOC SRR continues until end December with a final report expected mid-January.



SOC/DPAC System Requirements Review process begins
The first of ESA's major reviews for the Gaia ground segment, which consists of the Mission Operations Centre (ESOC), and the Science Operations Centre (ESAC) with DPAC, starts today with the release of the data package for the SOC/DPAC System Requirements Review. The purpose of the review is to ensure that documented requirements reflect the science requirements and to identify any requirements that may not be consistent with product development constraints. The SOC/DPAC review takes place during November and December with a final report expected by end December. Further details can be found in "SOC/DPAC System Requirements Review Procedure" (GAIA-C1-TN-ESAC-RG-001, available in Livelink).



Main Database Explorer Tool released
Version 1 of the Gaia Main Database Explorer Tool has been released. This tool allows users to browse local and remote databases using SQL queries to select data. Remote databases currently available are: the Main Database (currently containing IDT output data) and the Gaia Database (containing AGIS output data), both of these are hosted at ESAC. Data objects that are stored in binary form in the database, such as arrays and GaiaRoot objects, are shown as normal readable data. Query results can be stored in ASCII files, or sent to plotting tools such as Grace and Topcat. The Explorer Tool has simple line plotting functionality built-in, and it can open several types of files, such as FITS files and GaiaRoot binary files. Further details are available in the user manual.



ELSA school on the science of Gaia commences
More than 50 scientists have gathered at the Lorentz Center, Leiden, for the ELSA school on the science of Gaia, which starts today. The aim of this ten-day school is to provide participants with an extensive overview of the science of Gaia by means of lectures and hands-on exercises. The Lorentz Centre provides facilities to encourage discussion between experts and students. The workshop continues until 28 November. Further details are available from the workshop pages.



Java Workshop at MSSL - some places available
Mullard Space Science Laboratory hosts a Gaia Java workshop from 26 to 27 November. A few places are still available. Details are available on the GaiaWiki.



Gaia Parameter Data Base updated
Version 3.0 of the Gaia Parameter Data Base has been released. This update includes, among others, a change of the JPL DE405 to the IMCCE INPOP06 ephemeris, updated fundamental constants from CODATA 2002 to 2006, many updated spacecraft-design parameters following the Preliminary Design Review (PDR), updated and augmented photometric relations from GAIA-C5-TN-UB-CJ-041-1, and the introduction of the convention that the astronomical unit has identical TDB-induced and TCB-induced values. Details of the update can be found in the ChangeLog of the Parameter Data Base. A Software Release Note for this version is also available.



"Hipparcos, the New Reduction of the Raw Data" now available.
A new reduction of the raw data from the Hipparcos mission has been completed by Floor van Leeuwen (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge), and is published by Springer as "Hipparcos, the New Reduction of the Raw Data". The new data treatment is the result of improved modelling of the dynamical behaviour of the satellite, and the availability of more powerful computers than those available for the original data reduction. The final reductions have used the same approach as is planned for the Gaia mission, an iteration between the reconstruction of the along-scan attitude and the construction of the final catalogue. Further details, including some examples of the improvements obtained with the new reduction, can be found here.



Job opportunity at Bologna: Software developer for the absolute calibration of the Gaia photometric system
The INAF at the Astronomical Observatory of Bologna, Italy, has a vacancy for a software developer to work on Gaia, specifically the definition and development of the absolute calibration model for the Gaia spectrophotometric system, and its implementation in Java including tests and simulations. Candidates should hold a first degree, or equivalent, in a science (astronomy, physics, mathematics), engineering or computing discipline, and preferably a PhD, or equivalent, in one of these disciplines. Candidates should have strong interpersonal skills and be familiar with the analysis of scientific data, preferably in an astronomical context. The position is available immediately for 12 months, renewable. Further details, including application forms, are available online. Closing date for receipt of applications is 31 October 2007.



Job opportunity at Leicester: Software manager and developer for the Gaia data flow system
The Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester, UK, has a vacancy for a software manager and developer to work on Gaia. Candidates should hold a first degree, or equivalent, in a science, engineering or computing discipline, and preferably a PhD, or equivalent, in one of these disciplines. They should have three years relevant experience in scientific software development and in managing or coordinating the activities of a small software/IT team. This experience should have been gained in a space-project, or similar environment where working to strict schedules, performance requirements and resource constraints is essential. Candidates should have strong interpersonal skills and be familiar with the analysis of scientific data, preferably in an astronomical context. The position is available immediately for 30 months. Further details, including application forms, are available online. Closing date for receipt of applications is 31 October 2007.



Conference announcement: The Milky Way and the Local Group - now and in the Gaia era
A scientific conference on Gaia-related Galactic research, and on the impact which Gaia will make on this research field, will be held at the University of Heidelberg from 31 August to 4 September 2009. This conference is being organised by Prof. Eva Grebel and Dr. Ulrich Bastian of the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, part of the ZAH, Center for Astronomy of the University of Heidelberg. Further details will be made available at a later date.



Database workshop at ESAC- call for expressions of interest
The Gaia team at ESAC proposes a database workshop intended for people interested in databases and their use in the data processing of Gaia. The tentative dates are January 17-18, 2008. Further details are available on the dedicated wiki page.



Java07 Workshop in the UK- call for expressions of interest
A Java workshop will be held at Mullard Space Science Laboratory during November 26-28 2007. This workshop, intended for people joining CU5 and CU6 in the UK this year, will be a basic tools workshop with a few advanced topics also included. People interested in attending should consult the workshop wiki page.



Gaia Data Processing System Scientist at MSSL/UCL
Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, announces the availability of a new position for a scientist to lead the scientific development of the core spectroscopic algorithms for the Gaia mission data processing. The successful applicant will provide scientific expertise within a team of software engineers working on the design, development and verification of operational software for the Radial Velocity Spectrometer instrument, which will be implemented as part of the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC). The applicant will also be encouraged to pursue a programme of research in the area of Galactic formation and evolution. The post is initially funded for 3 years with a possible extension. Further information and details on how to apply can be found online. The closing date for receipt of applications is 15 September 2007.



Doctoral (PhD) position at the University of Vienna
The working group on Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Vienna, is inviting applications for one doctoral (PhD) position to work with Dr. Thomas Lebzelter on long period variables (LPVs) within Coordination Unit 7 (variable stars) of the Gaia space mission. The student shall significantly contribute to the development of various tools to allow handling LPVs within the Gaia data analysis pipeline and to ongoing work on the P-L-relations of these variables. The position is funded for two years with a possible extension for another six months. All applications received prior to 25 September 2007 will be given full consideration, however the position is open until filled. More details, including application procedure, can be found online.



Post-doctoral position on algorithm and software development at University of Liège
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. Specifically, the successful candidate will be responsible for developing algorithms and software dealing with the orbital solutions for spectroscopic binary systems, with measurements of radial velocities on the basis of Gaia spectra, and with investigations on the feasibility of performing radial velocity measurements from multiple spectra by cross-correlating with templates. The position is for one year with a possible extension for a second year; starting date is 1 November 2007 or earlier. Further details, including requested qualifications and skills, research possibilities, and application procedure are available online. The closing date for applications is 1 October 2007.



Survey astronomy software developer position at the University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh seeks a Software Developer to join the team in the Wide-Field Astronomy Unit of the Institute for Astronomy working on the delivery of the data management software for the Gaia satellite, due for launch in 2011. Initially, the successful candidate will be analysing requirements and developing software to model the effects of radiation on the instrumentation, but s/he will have the skills and versatility to contribute to other aspects of the project. S/he will have a relevant degree (physical sciences or computing) and at least two years experience of data-intensive applications development and data modelling since graduation, working in a collaborative environment. A PhD and experience with Java, Python, C/C++, RDBMS/SQL and cross-platform Client/Server applications would be an advantage. The post is available as soon as possible and initial appointment will be for three years. Current plans are to interview shortlisted candidates in the first week of October. Further details are available here.



Contract signed for production of Gaia primary mirrors
On Monday 18 June, during the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, Sagem Défense Sécurité signed a contract with EADS Astrium (the prime contractor for Gaia) to produce the primary mirrors for Gaia. The 1.45m by 0.5m mirrors, made from a Silicon Carbide material produced by BOOSTEC, must be manufactured and polished to a precision better than 10 nm. Delivery of the mirrors to EADS Astrium is scheduled for 2008.



DPAC proposal approved by SPC
At a meeting in Paris on 24-25 May, ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC) approved the DPAC proposal submitted in response to the AO for Gaia data processing issued last November. The proposal, submitted by a pan-European consortium, describes a complete data processing system capable of handling the full size and complexity of the Gaia data within the mission schedule. Following the SPC approval the DPAC is now officially responsible for Gaia data processing activities.



AWG recommendations on Gaia-related issues
At the 128th meeting of ESA's Astronomy Working Group, held at ESTEC on 17-18 April, the selection of the DPAC consortium, and of a new Gaia Science Team were discussed. The AWG recommendations following on from these discussions are now available online. In addition, the Project Scientist presented a status report on the radiation damage assessment on Gaia CCDs. The AWG has issued a resolution on this matter.



Java07 workshops open for registration
CU1 is organising two Java workshops for DPAC members. A basic-level course, similar to Java06, will be held at ESAC on June 18-19; an advanced course is scheduled for June 20-21. Further details, including instructions for registering for either or both courses are available on the Java07 GaiaWiki page.



Post-doctoral position on celestial reference frame determination at OCA-Nice
Applications are invited for a CNRS-funded post-doctoral position at the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (Nice) to work on the determination of the celestial reference frame using a well-controled sample of QSOs observed by Gaia. The position, starting not later than 1 October 2007, is funded for 1 year with a possible renewable for a second year. Further details are available online. Applicants are invited to contact E. Slezak or F. Mignard. The closing date for applications is 30 April 2007.



CU2 issues call for cycle 3 simulation requirements
On 15 March the call for simulation requirements for DPAC cycle 3 was issued by CU2 (Data Simulations). Requirements received from other CUs are used in planning the CU2 development cycles. The deadline for receipt of the requirements is 30 March and should be submitted and coordinated through the CU managers. Further details on this call and on how to formulate the requirements are given on the GaiaWiki.



Announcement of Opportunity for membership of the Gaia Science Team
As described in the Science Management Plan, the Gaia Science Team is due to be renewed when the mission moves from design to development phase. This transition is foreseen for June 2007. Consequently, ESA has now issued an AO for membership of the Gaia Science Team. Proposals are invited for seven positions: two astrometry scientists, two photometry scientists, two radial velocity spectrometer scientists and one data analysis scientist. Further details are available online. The deadline for submission of proposals is 15:00 UT on 4 April, 2007.


Call for proposals from EURO-VO
The EURO-VO project is soliciting proposals from teams aiming at carrying out astronomical projects driven by the Virtual Observatory concept, and making use of the Virtual Observatory tools and applications. The successful groups will receive support from EURO-VO astronomers to complete their projects by December 2007. Further details can be found on the EURO-VO web site. The closing date for applications is 1 April, 2007.



9 PhD study positions and 5 postdoc positions for work on Gaia-related topics within the ELSA network
ELSA (European Leadership in Space Astrometry) is a Marie Curie Research Training Network (RTN) funded by the EU. The network is now announcing the availability of 9 PhD study positions (to be located in Athens, Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva, Helsinki, Padova, Leiden, Lund and Nice) and 5 postdoctoral positions (in Heidelberg, Torino, Leiden, Ljubljana and Meudon). Further information can be found here. Note that special rules concerning nationality, mobility and level of experience apply to all RTN fellowships.
The deadline for the PhD positions has been extended to 15 April; for the postdoc positions please check the web pages.



University lectureship position at Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London
A university lectureship position is available at MSSL/UCL on Galactic Structure and Evolution, particularly looking forward to the scientific opportunities that will be afforded by Gaia and Herschel. This is a permanent academic position. Details can be found online here. The deadline is 14 February, 2007.



PhD position in stellar astrophysics with Gaia (Uppsala University)
The Department for Astronomy and Space Physics at Uppsala University invites applications for a 4-year PhD position to work on preparations for Gaia. The successful candidate will undertake research aimed at optimizing the astrophysical parameter determination of Gaia. S/he is expected to work on both observational and theoretical aspects related to developing stellar models towards a higher degree of self-consistency. The emphasis will lie on calibrations for solar-type stars. Although working toward this specific goal, there is ample scope for scientific creativity. Further details of this position are available here. The deadline for applications is 28 March, 2007.



Timo Prusti appointed Gaia Project Scientist
Timo Prusti takes up duty today as Gaia Project Scientist. Timo, who as project scientist will have overall responsibility for the scientific aspects of the mission, takes over from Fred Jansen who has been acting project scientist since March 2006.

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