News 2010



All Gaia CCDs delivered
Today the 130th and last Gaia CCD has been accepted, hence completing the pool of Flight Model and Flight Spare devices. This completes a phase of Gaia development which started more than 8 years ago with the manufacturing company e2v technologies. After assembly, integration and testing the Gaia focal plane will eventually contain 106 CCDs providing the detection of the anticipated billion objects.



17 PhD positions available for research linked to studies of the Milky Way
The Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK is leading a new EC FP7 Marie-Curie Initial Training Network - GREAT-ITN - with a research theme of 'Unravelling the Milky Way' including studies of its constituent components from planets, stars, dust and gas. Across the network, seventeen Marie Curie Early Stage Research (ESR) Fellows will embark on PhD study programmes. The ESR positions, which are distributed over 13 European institutes, are for three years and are expected to commence in September/October 2011. Further information can be found in the following website.



Gaia's eyes and brain pass tests
Another milestone in the development of ESA's Gaia spacecraft has been passed with the successful conclusion of two parallel test programmes during October. These tests demonstrated that Gaia's focal plane assembly (FPA) - the 'eyes' of the spacecraft - is structurally and functionally fit for flight. More information in SciTech web pages.



Young Graduate Trainee Opportunity in Gaia for 2011
ESA is offering a one-year training contract to recent graduates to work in the area of "ultra-bright stars". The successful applicant will be based at ESTEC (The Netherlands) and will work in the Gaia Project Scientist Support Team. An overview of the Young Graduate Trainee programme is available online. The list of YGT training opportunities is available in the following link. Further details for this position are available in this link. The deadline for applications is 15 December 2010.



Updated Gaia presentation and new hardware images
As of today, the Gaia public presentation has been updated. In addition, the Image gallery has been significantly extended, now containing several dozens new hardware images of the Service Module (SVM), the Payload Module (PLM), the Focal-Plane Assembly (FPA), and the Radial-Velocity-Spectrometer Opto-Mechanical Assembly (RVS OMA).



Malargüe Deep-Space-Antenna-3 webcam
As of mid-2012, ESA's exploration and science missions, including Gaia, will have access to a third, 35-metre Deep-Space Antenna (DSA-3) located in Malargüe, Argentina. The construction of this ground station - which complements the currently available ESA 35-metre stations New Norcia (DSA-1) and Cebreros (DSA-2) - can be followed live by a webcam at this link.



Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 10 is now available and there you will find the presentation of two of the largest DPAC teams, or you will learn why we care so much about the solar activity during the mission. For more information, visit the following link.



Soyuz launch facilities near completion
Gaia has been designed to be placed in space by a Soyuz vehicle. The launch site at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou has now entered its final phase of preparations, with qualification tests of the new facilities under way. Pictures and more information are available in the Image & movie gallery (launch section) of our web site and the ESA Launchers web site.



Vacancy notice: Software engineer / system administrator at the University of Geneva, Switzerland
The Geneva Observatory invites applications for a position to work on the preparation for the Gaia data processing. The variability processing of the Gaia data is a complex task. Several hundreds of TB of input data collected for a billion celestial objects have to be processed in an automatic and robust manner. For more information, visit the ISDC web site or the following link. Deadline for applications: 31 October 2010.



Vacancy notice: Scientific collaborator at the University of Geneva, Switzerland
The Geneva Observatory invites applications for a position to work on the preparation for the Gaia data processing. The successful candidate will develop algorithms for the analysis of photometric and radial velocity times series of astronomical sources. For more information, visit the ISDC web site or the following link. Deadline for applications: 31 October 2010.



End of ELSA
ELSA is a Marie Curie Research Training Network (RTN) with the goal to develop theoretical understanding and practical analysis tools of importance for the Gaia mission. A second goal is to contribute to the training of a new generation of researchers in space astrometry and related areas. ELSA has recruited 15 fellows (10 PhD students and 5 postdocs) to work on this research project that started on the 1st of October 2006 and finishes today, 30th September 2010.



Vacancy notice: Gaia postdoctoral position at the MPIA (Heidelberg)
MPIA is seeking for a postdoctoral researcher to work on preparations for the analysis and scientific exploitation of the Gaia data. The deadline for applications is November 15, 2010. For more information, visit the following web page.



ESA article about M1 delivery
An article about the delivery of Gaia's primary mirrors has been published in the Science & Technology web site. One of the M1 mirrors arrived in Toulouse (EADS Astrium premises) on the 3rd September and the second one is near completion and scheduled to be delivered in October. For more information, visit the following link.



Vacancy notice: Software developer at the University of Leicester
The University of Leicester (UK) seeks a Software Developer to work as a member of DPAC designing, developing and testing software for the Gaia astrometry instrument Point Spread Function and Line Spread Function calibration. Closing date for applications is 3 October 2010. For more information, visit the University web site (Ref: SEN00103).



Science@ESA vodcast on Gaia available in Spanish and Catalan
The ESA vodcast about astrometry titled "Charting the Galaxy - from Hipparcos to Gaia" is now available not only in English but also in Spanish and Catalan thanks to the translation provided by the University of Barcelona. It can be downloaded from the "Image & movie gallery" section of the Gaia web site.



Vacancy notice at engineer/postdoc level (2 positions) at the Observatory of Paris
Two positions are opened in Paris (Meudon) Observatory from beginning of October 2010 for the DPAC java development in, respectively, spectroscopy and handling of multiple stars. If you are interested, please send your cv and bibliography before the 27th September 2010.
More details can be found in the following website.



Announcement for the 2011 ESA Fellowship in Space Science
The new ESA Fellowship Programme is open for applications till the 1st October 2010. Fellowships are to begin in September/October 2011. If you are interested in a Gaia related topic, please, contact us.



Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 9 is now available and there you will find information about the time metrology required to meet the Gaia promises in astrometry or the windowing scheme applied on board to keep the telemetry flow manageable. Also a team from the Observatory of Bordeaux describes what they are doing to exploit the imaging capabilities of Gaia to classify galaxies. For more information, visit the following link.



10th anniversary of the publication of the Concept and Technology Study Report (CTSR)
The scientific success of Hipparcos demonstrated the feasibility of accurate global astrometry from space. It led to a proposed M3 mission, Roemer, but finally not accepted due to its modest accuracy gain over Hipparcos. Gaia was proposed in response to a call for ideas for a cornerstone mission. Approval of a 'Concept and Technology Study' for Gaia was given in 1996. The CTSR was published 4 years later, in July 2000, demonstrating that the goals to be achieved by Gaia were feasible and within the budget.



ESA article about ELSA and GREAT
An article about the European Leadership in Space Astrometry (ELSA) and Gaia Research for European astronomy Training (GREAT) has been published in the Science & Technology web site. For more information, visit the following link.



Vacancy notice: Java developer for Gaia at the University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh seeks a Java developer to work as a member of DPAC. You will work as part of a local team of four other scientists/developers on data processing software for the ground segment of the mission, implementing algorithms for the calibration and removal of instrumental signatures from the scientific data generated by the satellite. The post is available as soon as possible and the initial appointment will run until 30th June 2012, with extension dependent on availability of further funding. For more information, visit the following link. Deadline for application: 27th July 2010.



Honorary doctorate at the Lund University for Dr. Michael Perryman
In recognition of more than 25 years of outstanding contributions to astronomy, Dr. Michael Perryman today received an honorary doctorate at the Lund University. Together with 18 other honorary doctors, 16 jubilee doctors (who received their original doctorates fifty years ago), and 256 new doctors, Perryman received his laurel wreath, golden ring and diploma during the solemn conferment ceremony in the Lund Cathedral. Michael Perryman was the Project Scientist for Hipparcos 1981-1997, and for Gaia 1996-2006. He is currently holding a Distinguished Visitor position at the University of Heidelberg, and Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg.
In addition, Michael Perryman has recently published the book The Making of History's Greatest Star Map, describing the efforts of the mankind from prehistoric times to the 20th century to build a map of the sky.



Post-doc position on Gaia spectrometer pipeline development at the Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam (AIP)
Applications are invited for a post-doc position at the AIP to help develop elements of the spectroscopic pipeline of Gaia. The main task will be to continue the code development of the background model for the Gaia Radial Velocity Spectrometer (RVS), integration and testing of the code, and writing of documentation. The successful applicant will work in close collaboration with the Observatoire de Paris group that is leading the development of the RVS data reduction pipeline. The applicant should have experience with spectroscopic data and code development and preferably have a research profile related to Gaia science.
The initial appointment will be for one year, with extension to a second and a possible third year foreseen. Review of the applications will start immediately and continue until the position is filled. Salary is based on the German public service scale (TV-L; included are employer contributions to medical and dental insurance, maternity leave, and retirement benefits). The AIP is an equal opportunity employer and particularly encourages applications from women. It values diversity. For further questions please contact Dr. Roelof de Jong. More details can be found at the following web site.



Postdoctoral position related to open clusters and Gaia in Bordeaux
The Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux (LAB) carries out observational, interpretative and theoretical research in various fields of astrophysics. In this context, applications are invited for a postdoctoral fellow to work on several research topics, including astrometry and spectroscopy of open clusters and young associations for probing the galactic disc in the perspective of Gaia. For more information, visit the following web page. Deadline for applications: June 1, 2010.



Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 8 is now available and there you will find information about the Critical Design Review of the Payload Module, how short period variable stars signal could be analysed with photometric data at the CCD time resolution, etc. For more information, visit the following link.



GREAT workshop on Comparative Modelling of Stellar Spectra (Vienna, 23-24 August)
The idea behind this workshop is to compare various modelling approaches for cool stellar atmospheres by fitting the spectrum of selected cool giants using the corresponding codes. The results will be discussed in order to identify differences between the codes and their impact on the derived quantities. The summary of this discussion shall be published in a paper. The total number of participants is limited to 35. If you are interested, send an email to the LOC.



CU3 plenary meeting cancelled
Due to the disruption of traffic air caused by a volcanic eruption on Iceland, the CU3 plenary meeting scheduled for the 21st - 22nd April in Madrid has been cancelled. Please, check the wiki for more details.



New Gaia poster on industrial involvement in the Gaia spacecraft
In our posters web page, a new poster presents the industrial effort on the Gaia spacecraft, organised by country.



Workshop on Binaries and Multiple Systems (Brussels, 17-18 May)
A workshop on post-Gaia scientific investigations on double and multiple stars will take place in Brussels, 17-18 May. With roughly 100M binaries and multiple systems detected and modelled by Gaia, the community has to be ready to handle data sets which it is not used to. The goal of this kick-off workshop is: (a) from the Gaia DPAC side, to make the community fully aware of what Gaia is likely to achieve in terms of binaries and multiple systems; and (b) from the community side, to make DPAC aware of its expectations and potential problematic cases which might have been overlooked so far, and what they expect in their field of research in the Gaia era. For more information, visit the workshop web site.



GREAT Plenary Meeting at ESTEC open for registration
The GREAT Plenary Meeting (29-30 June) will focus on the following topics: (1) update on the progress of Gaia, (2) discuss the evolution of the GREAT network and review the start of the ESF funded network in 2010, (3) decide on plans for specific networking activities to support the work of the various science working groups, and (4) planning and report on development of the GREAT Chemo-Dynamical Survey (GCDS) programme. For more information, please visit the meeting web site.



Gaia Science Alerts Workshop (23-25 June 2010, Cambridge)
The main aim of the workshop is to focus community attention and involvement in the scientific possibilities that will arise from the Gaia Science Alerts data stream. The most important goals are: (a) To develop a roadmap for the coordination and preparation of ground based verification and follow-up observing campaigns; (b) To identify the most exciting targets of opportunity for the Gaia Science Alerts stream; (c) To improve the understanding of of the expected events and contaminants rates for Gaia alerts; (d) To improve requirements on the development and operation of the Gaia Alerts stream, including time-scales, sensitivity, acceptable contamination rates and so on. For more information, visit the workshop web page.



European Science Foundation (ESF) funded GREAT research networking programme started
The objective of GREAT is to provide opportunities to the wider science community in the exploitation of the Gaia mission by supporting a science-oriented network addressing the scientific issues in which Gaia will have a major impact. The newly launched ESF funded GREAT research network, which will run until February 2015, will fund a wide range of community networking events.
The first open round of calls, for workshops, conferences, exchange visits and training schools, will be released in early March 2010 - with deadlines of 4 June 2010. Proposals to support networking events in science areas where Gaia will have a significant impact, will be welcome.
More information can be found on the GREAT website or at the ESF pages. Specific information related to the upcoming GREAT ESF RNP calls is located at You can also sign up to the GREAT mailing list by visiting



A million CPU hours for Gaia simulation
GASS is one of the CU2 data generators, in charge of producing Gaia-like telemetry data to be injected in the processing chain, from IDT onwards. In order to run the GASS simulations needed for the DPAC End to End (E2E) testing, a total of 1,100,000 CPU hours have been allocated by the Red Española de Supercomputación (RES, the Spanish Supercomputing Network) in MareNostrum for the next four months. This will allow the generation of 18 months of telemetry for a scaled-down version of the sky suitable for this E2E testing. For more information, visit the following link.



Gaia Project / DPAC Interface Control Document approved
The Gaia Project / DPAC Interface Control Document (GAIA-EST-ICD-05489) has been approved by DPACE and ESA and is now available on Livelink. The history of this document goes back to June 2006, when Carine Babusiaux first issued Requests for spacecraft and instrument specifications (GAIA-CD-TN-OPM-CB-010). After the first meeting on 21 February 2008 to discuss the DPAC needs, a list of items required by DPAC, and to be provided by ESA, has recently been agreed upon, covering the optical configuration, the detectors/electronics and focal plane assembly, the spacecraft attitude, the payload data handling unit, video processing unit, and telemetry, the basic angle monitoring and wavefront sensor devices, and the atomic clock. For more information, please contact the DPAC Project Office .



Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 7 is now available and there you will find information about the Project Office located at ESAC, how to improve the velocity determination of the spacecraft or about the ground-based observations needed to improve, test, calibrate or validate pieces of the data processing pipeline. For more information, visit the following link.



Ten years Tycho-2 Catalogue
The Tycho-2 Catalogue of the 2.5 million brightest stars in the sky was released on the 8th of February 2000, and it has become one of the four most popular of all astronomical catalogues (see Erik Høg's recent note at the website where also publications and data are available). Tycho-2 contains positions, proper motions and two-colour magnitudes for the stars covering the entire sky. Positions and magnitudes were based on observations from 1989 to 1993 with Hipparcos. The Tycho-2 positions and 100 years of ground-based astrometry contained in more than 140 catalogues were utilized to obtain the proper motions.



First Gaia mirrors completed
The Gaia project recently passed another major milestone with the completion of one-third of the ten payload mirrors. Final acceptance for the M5 and two M4 mirrors was granted by Delivery Review Boards conducted at the premises of Advanced Mechanical and Optical Systems (AMOS) in Liege, Belgium, towards the end of 2009. For more information, visit the ESA Science & Technology web pages.

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