News 2013

20/12/2013 Gaia in the sky

Following the DPAC call "Take a picture of Gaia", amateur astronomers from around the world as well as others interested in Gaia have submitted various entries. The first images and videos of Gaia on its way to L2 are available now. Visit the website here.

19/12/2013 Lift-off for Gaia

ESA's Gaia mission blasted off this morning on a Soyuz rocket from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The sunshield was deployed in a 10-minute automatic sequence, completed around 88 minutes after launch. ESA's press release is available here.

19/12/2013 Gaia launch video

Watch a replay of the Gaia launch on the ESA Space in Videos page.

18/12/2013 Gaia has ticket to ride

ESA's Gaia mission is 'go' for launch. The satellite has passed its final checks and is ready to be launched tomorrow from Europe's spaceport in Kourou. Find out more here.

18/12/2013 Watch the Gaia launch online

Watch the Gaia launch on 19 December at 09:12:19 UTC (10:12:19 CET) here. Streaming starts at 08:50 UTC (09:50 CET). The live transmission can also be watched at ESA's Livestream channel.

17/12/2013 Gaia launch preparations

For the latest about Gaia and the launch preparations, follow @ESAGaia on Twitter. Additional in-depth stories and accounts from the launch site are provided on the ESA Gaia blog. For images of the preparations, visit the ESA website or the Sci-Tech site. Interested in the launch sequence? It is available here.

--- update: ESA Operations now offers a detailed lift-off timeline

17/12/2013 CNES Gaia Information Pack

The English language version of the CNES Gaia Information Pack is available here.

12/12/2013 Field-of-View-Maker tool for tracking Gaia available

A new GBOT interactive tool provides access to Gaia finding charts. The Gaia Field-of-View-Maker had originally been designed to facilitate the ground-based optical tracking of the Gaia spacecraft in its orbit around L2. It has now been made available to the public to be used to locate Gaia in the sky after launch and before it reaches its final orbit. Access to the tool is provided here.

12/12/2013 New Arianespace Gaia launch kit

Find out more about Gaia's launch vehicle, the launch sequence and the Gaia mission profile in the latest Arianespace Gaia launch kit. An English and a French version are available here.

06/12/2013 Gaia launch sequence

In less than two weeks time, Gaia will be launched from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana. Find out what happens in the minutes and hours after launch and visit the new Gaia launch sequence page.

05/12/2013 New Gaia vacancies

Leiden Observatory and the Observatory in Besançon invite applications for a postdoctoral research associate and a one year post-doc/engineer position. For more information about the positions, visit the Vacancy section.

04/12/2013 Gaia fairing logo revealed

Measuring 3.5 x 3.5 metres, the fairing logo for Gaia will be applied to the shells which enclose the spacecraft and the Fregat upper stage. It is available for download in the Media Gallery.

Find out more about the fairing logo on the ESA Gaia blog.

02/12/2013 Revised Multilateral Agreement for Gaia signed

A revised Multilateral Agreement (MLA) has been signed at the Science Programme Committee meeting, held on 28 November 2013 at ESA Headquarters in Paris, France. The Gaia MLA defines the terms and conditions governing the commitment of each party to Gaia data processing. The revised agreement adds the Archive Access Coordination Unit (CU9) to the Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC). CU9 will be responsible, along with the Gaia Science Operations Centre, for providing a repository for Gaia data products as well as access tools to maximise the scientific exploitation of the Gaia data set. An image of the signatories to the revised MLA is available here.

28/11/2013 DPAC news: DPAC gearing up for Gaia commissioning

Shortly after the launch of Gaia the first mission data will be downlinked and used to perform instrument calibrations and performance checks. DPAC will participate by processing the  early Gaia telemetry through its own software systems and thereby support ESA and Astrium during the commissioning period. A group of payload experts within DPAC will be responsible for a detailed scientific performance assessment of the Gaia instruments. The results of this analysis will be published as a paper in 2014 in order to give the scientific community early insight into the expected quality of the Gaia data.

22/11/2013 New ESA animation: Guide to our Galaxy
ESA has released a new animation which shows the different components that make up our home galaxy, the Milky Way. It starts at the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way and with the stars that orbit around it, before zooming out through the central Galactic Bulge, which hosts about ten billion stars. The animation is available here.

05/11/2013 New Gaia Technology video
A new video about the Gaia mission and its technology is available on the ESA website.

30/10/2013 Gaia launch on 20 December
The upcoming launch manifest of Arianespace has now been established. Gaia is scheduled for launch on 20 December.

23/10/2013 Gaia launch postponement update
Yesterday, the decision was taken to postpone the launch of ESA's Gaia mission after a technical issue was identified in another satellite already in orbit. Gaia shares some of the components involved in this technical issue and prompt notification of this problem has allowed engineers working on the final preparations for Gaia's launch to take additional precautionary measures. The issue concerns components used in two transponders on Gaia that generate ‘timing signals' for downlinking the science telemetry. To avoid potential problems, they will be replaced. The transponders will be removed from Gaia at Kourou and returned to Europe, where the potentially faulty components will be replaced and verified. After the replacements have been made, the transponders will be refitted to Gaia and a final verification test made. As a consequence of these precautionary measures, it will not be possible to launch Gaia within the window that includes the previously targeted launch date of 20 November. The next available launch window is 17 December to 5 January 2014. More details will be given as soon as they are available. The new launch date will be announced when the timeline for completing the additional work has been confirmed and the overall launch manifest of Arianespace has been established.

22/10/2013 Gaia launch postponed
Due to recently-discovered technical issues, ESA has decided to perform additional verifications on its Gaia satellite, and therefore the Agency has requested that Arianespace postpone the Gaia launch, currently scheduled for November 20, 2013. A new launch date will be announced as soon as the availability of the satellite is confirmed.


Vacancy: Software Developer at Geneva Observatory
The Observatoire de Genève seeks a Software Developer. The candidate will work on the preparation for the Gaia data processing. The Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) will process the raw data to be published in the largest stellar catalogue ever made. In Geneva a group of nine scientists and software engineers lead the European-wide collaboration responsible for the variability processing and analysis of the Gaia data. For more information about the vacancy, click here.


Videos of Gaia preparations in Kourou
A selection of videos, including a timelapse of the sunshield deployment test as well as interviews with Project Manager Giuseppe Sarri and Project Scientist Timo Prusti, are available on the ESA TV website. They can be found here.


Gaia sunshield deployment test successful
Ahead of its launch on 20 November 2013, Gaia has passed its critical sunshield deployment test. During the test at Europe's spaceport in Kourou the shield's twelve carbon fibre folding frames were opened successfully in the cleanroom. As the Deployable Sunshield Assembly (DSA) was not designed to support its own weight in the one-g environment at Earth's surface, support cables and counterweights attached to the shield provided a realistic test environment. In space the 10.5 metre diameter sunshield will shade the spacecraft's telescope from the sun. It will also help to provide a stable and low temperature environment. To see the sunshield in its deployed state, click here.


New ESA Gaia images available
New images, showing the preparations of Gaia's Deployable Sunshield Array, are available in the Sci-Tech Multimedia Gallery. For more information, click here.


Additional images of the Gaia launch campaign available
CNES has made additional images of the Gaia launch campaign available on Flickr. To view the images, click here.


ESA's billion-star surveyor passes crucial live test
An engineering copy of ESA's Gaia satellite in Toulouse was linked to the mission control system at ESOC in Germany on 5-6 September, enabling flight controllers to send commands and receive data just as they will once the actual satellite is in orbit. The succesful System Validation Test (SVT) was the final in a series of nine live linkups over the past four years as Gaia has moved through various stages of construction and integration. Read more about the SVT on the ESA webite.


Vacancy: Gaia postdoctoral research associate at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg
A postdoc position to work on the Gaia data processing as part of DPAC-CU9 is available at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg. The application deadline is 10 October 2013; the position is available from 1 January 2014 (later start possible). For more details, visit the MPIA website.


Gaia transport to French Guiana
After a smooth flight on board the Antonov 124, Gaia arrived in Cayenne, French Guiana, in the early hours of 23 August. For photos of the spacecraft's departure and arrival, visit the ESA Gaia blog.


New ESA Gaia blog online
With Gaia launch preparations in full swing, ESA has released its new Gaia blog. The blog is an unofficial and in-depth source of information for the anyone interested in Gaia and the launch campaign. It will feature contributions from Gaia engineers in Kourou, scientists and members of the wider Gaia community. Click here to read the newest entry.


Gaia-ESO Survey first public data release

The Gaia-ESO Survey has released to the ESO archive a first set of some 1000 spectra. These represent all the Galactic stellar populations, from very young stars in open clusters, to old metal-poor halo stars. ESO will make the data available in the near future. See for more information on the Survey.


Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 21 is now available. In this issue, you will learn more about, for instance, CU5, HEALPix and The Gaia Initial QSO Catalogue. For more information, visit this link.


Vacancy: Two postdoc/engineer positions at Meudon and Besançon observatories
The Meudon and Besançon Gaia groups open two one year positions for a computer scientist or astrophysicist to work on the data validation. The deadline for applications is 8 September 2013. For more information, visit the Meudon website.


Vacancy: Astronomical software developer at the ZAH in Heidelberg
The Gaia group in Heidelberg seeks a Computer Scientist or an Astrophysicist for a position at the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut (ARI) of the Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg (ZAH), Germany. The application deadline is 15 August 2013. For more information, visit the ZAH website.


Gaia flight model testing completed
The final test campaigns for the Gaia Flight Model spacecraft have been completed, paving the way for shipment to the launch site in French Guiana. More information can be found on the ESA Sci-Tech website.


Gaia scanning the sky
ESA's billion-star surveyor, Gaia, has completed final preparations in Europe and is ready to depart for its launch site in French Guiana, set to embark on a five-year mission to map the stars with unprecedented precision. For more information and an animation of the spacecraft scanning the sky, visit the ESA website .


Animation of Gaia sunshield deployment online
A new ESA animation shows the Gaia spacecraft shortly after launch as it unfolds its 10 m-wide sunshield ‘skirt'. You can find the video here.


Electromagnetic compatibility tests and mass properties tests completed
The Gaia Spacecraft Flight Model has successfully completed its mass properties test campaign and its electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) test campaigns at the facilities of Intespace in Toulouse, France. For more information about the mass properties campaign, visit the ESA Sci-Tech website. The article about the EMC test campaigns is available here.


Gaia Flight Model Payload Data Handling Unit delivered and integrated
The Gaia Flight Model Payload Data Handling Unit was one of the last major subsystems to be delivered and integrated into the Gaia Service Module. Its arrival, at the end of 2012, allowed extensive end-to-end testing of the spacecraft systems to be performed. Photos and more information can be found on the ESA Sci-Tech website.


François Mignard new Photometry Scientist in the Gaia Science Team
The Director of Science and Robotic Exploration has appointed François Mignard as one of the Photometry Scientists in the Gaia Science Team. Francois has been selected for a renewable period of three years. His take up duty date is 1 July 2013.


Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 20 is now available. In this issue, you will learn more about, for instance, CU3, The Ondřejov Observatory, and GBOT. For more information, visit this link.


New Gaia photos
Thirteen recent photos of the Gaia flight-model spacecraft during tests at Intespace (Toulouse, France) have been released. They can be found here here.


Announcement of Opportunity for photometry scientist in the Gaia Science Team
The Director of Science and Robotic Exploration has released an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for membership in the science team of the Gaia mission. The AO is open to all scientists from institutions located in ESA Member States. The deadline for receipt of proposals is 30 April 2013. Full details of the AO are here.


Flight Model Payload Module thermal testing completed
Thermal balance and thermal vacuum testing of the Gaia flight model payload module was completed at Centre Spatial de Liège, Belgium, towards the end of 2012. The payload module was returned to Astrium Toulouse in mid January 2013 for integration with the service module. Pictures and more information can be found at the ESA Sci-Tech web pages.


Computer-scientist position at the Liège University
The group of Extragalactic Astrophysics and Space Observations (AEOS) of the Liège University invites applications for a computer scientist to work on the development of software aimed at detecting and characterising quasars with the Gaia mission. The position is initially for 10-11 months with a possibility of prolongation. For more information, see this document.


Post-doc position at the University of Cambridge
The Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge invites applications for a post-doctoral research position to work on the scientific optimisation and exploitation of optical transients which will be discovered by Gaia. The position is available from April 2013, for initially 3 years, but starting date and duration are negotiable. The deadline for applications is 7 March 2013. For more information, visit the following web page.


Vacancy notice: Scientific community support position in the Gaia Team at ESTEC
The Gaia Project Scientist Team has a vacancy for a position to support the Gaia scientific community. The successful candidate will be based at ESTEC, The Netherlands, and will be expected to support the day-to-day activities of the SOC and DPAC by acting as Information Manager within the team, ensuring access for SOC/DPAC to the resources provided by the Project Scientist, supporting activities in the domain of outreach (to the Gaia scientific community, the wider scientific community, and the public-at-large) within the boundaries established by the existing ESA infrastructure. Interested candidates should contact the Gaia Project Scientist Team as soon as possible [22 March 2013: position closed].


Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 19 is now available. In this issue, you will learn more about, for instance, CU1, Gaia and unresolved galaxies, and the initial data flow from Gaia to DPAC. For more information, visit this link.

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