News 2016

19/12/2016 Happy 3rd birthday to Gaia!

Since the launch of Gaia on 19 December 2013 Gaia performed an impressive number of astrometric, photometric and spectroscopic measurements. More than 60 billion times an object moved through the Gaia focal plane. The total amount of science data collected since launch can now be viewed through a new information page on mission status numbers.

01/12/2016 Vacancy: PhD positions at the Institute of Cosmic Science (Barcelona)

The Institute of Cosmic Science at University of Barcelona has proposed several PhD positions within the INPhINIT, "la Caixa" Foundation Fellowship Programme. Among all the available projects, the ones that are most strongly related with Gaia are: Detection Classification for Gaia, Gaia Alerts follow-up from Montsec Observatory, Open Clusters Studies in the Gaia era, and Gaia Detection of Ultra Faint Dwarf Galaxies in the halo as probes for cosmological models.

There are some requirements on the amount of time you spent in Spain in the past three years. You can find more information through here.

01/12/2016 Vacancy: Tenured lectureship in astro-statistics

The Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge has a vacancy for a tenured lectureship in astro-statistics. The deadline for applications is 7 December 2016. This position will include work on large astronomical surveys like SDSS, Gaia, LSST, RAVE & APOGEE. More information can be found on the AAS website.

18/11/2016 Gaia16aye is getting brighter

The spectacular binary microlensing event, Gaia16aye, is getting brighter just as predicted in the Image of the Week item of 27 October. The peak of the brightening is expected on 21 or 22 November and should reach about 11 magnitude in l-band. We are very lucky as the next observation of this target by Gaia happens to be right in time for this brightening and will happen on 21 November (as predicted using GOST).

An extensive follow-up campaign is conducted, according to Lukasz Wyrzykowski. You can contact him if you would like to be involved or if you want to share some data with him on this expected brightening.  The current model, including astrometric prediction, is available here.

18/11/2016 Gaia 'Ask Me Anything' on Gaia Operations

On 21 November 16:00 CET, ESOC will conduct a live 'Ask Me Anything' text chat via Reddit, focusing on Gaia operations. You can find more information on how to participate through this link. This AMA session will highlight day-to-day operations performed for Gaia. If you ever wanted to know more about how well the spacecraft is performing, how commands are sent up to the satellite or what the orbit of Gaia looks like, this is the moment to ask. Our operations team will be happy to answer your questions.

15/11/2016 Presentations of Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop are now available

The slides of the presentations and some tutorials given at the Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop on 2 - 4 November 2016 are now available here. Videos will be posted soon but are currently still being edited. Some pictures of the event have been put online as well.

01/11/2016 Livestream of Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop

The Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop will take place on 2 - 4 November 2016 at ESAC in Spain. You will be able to follow most of the morning sessions through the ESA livestream. More information on the programme of the sessions can be found here.

21/10/2016 Maintenance to Gaia Archive planned

On Tuesday 25 October 2016 the Gaia Archive will be taken offline shortly for maintenance. The archive webpage might not be reachable between 10:00 and 12:00 CEST. The planned maintenance should not affect any long running queries that are still in the queue and will probably last considerably less than the two hour period planned.

18/10/2016 Vacancy: ESA Research Fellowships in Space Science

ESA has announced an opportunity for post-doctoral research fellowships linked to its science missions, including Gaia. Applications can still be submitted since the deadline has been postponed until 29 October 2016. More details, including the detailed vacancies, can be found here. Additional information is provided on the Research Fellowship website.

06/10/2016 Vacancy: 2017 ESA traineeships in science

In 2017, ESA offers students a wide range of student internships. The deadline for applications for an ESTEC placement is 31 October 2016. Candidates interested in working in the Gaia project scientist team can contact the Gaia helpdesk for advice and further information. Information about the selection process and the terms and conditions is available on the ESA Careers page.

14/09/2016 Watch Replay of Gaia First Data Release Media Briefing

Livestreaming of the media briefing on the first data release from ESA’s Gaia mission started on 14 September at 09:30 GMT (11:30 CEST). The media briefing provided examples of the performance of the satellite and its science data, and highlighted the research that can be done with this first data release. Watch the replay of the briefing here.

05/09/2016 Vacancy: ESA Research Fellowships in Space Science

ESA has announced an opportunity for post-doctoral research fellowships linked to its science missions, including Gaia. Applications can be submitted until 29 September 2016. More details, including the detailed vacancies, can be found here. Additional information is provided on the Research Fellowship website.

30/08/2016 Gaia Data Release 1 sneak preview

A new webpage summarises the contents of Gaia Data Release 1 (DR1), DR1 statistical information, uncertainty statistics, as well as its limitations. The page also provides the URL of the Gaia Archive, which will serve simulated data from 1 September onwards. The Gaia Archive with DR1 data will be available as of 14 September 2016, 12:30 CEST.

24/08/2016 A Very Human Venture: Personal Perspectives on Gaia's Data Processing and Analysis Consortium

Since its launch in December 2013 Gaia has been sweeping the skies mapping around one billion stars. The data collected will allow astronomers to probe the very nature of the astronomical objects observed by the spacecraft. But before the data can be useful to the scientific community they must pass through a complex and robust processing pipeline. This is the story of how that pipeline was created and how it has struggled and thrived by virtue of being a truly human endeavour. To read the whole piece, click here.

23/08/2016 Vacancy: Gaia Information Manager 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, maintaining the Gaia community web pages and associated tools and supporting activities in the domain of outreach (within the boundaries established by the existing ESA infrastructure). To learn more, please contact us.

16/08/2016 Gaia's second anniversary marked by successes and challenges

Operating in the depths of space, far beyond the Moon's orbit, ESA's Gaia spacecraft has now completed two years of a planned five-year survey of the sky. Despite a series of unexpected technical challenges, the mission is on track to complete the most detailed and complex mapping of the heavens ever undertaken. The first mission data will be released on 14 September 2016. Read the whole story here.

18/07/2016 Register for the Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop now

The Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop, jointly organised by ESA and DPAC, will present the Gaia mission, its data and its usage. Plenary sessions providing general information will be complemented by smaller parallel hands-on sessions and open forums to discuss own projects, results and foster collaboration. The workshop will take place on 2 - 4 November 2016 at ESAC and is open to all astronomers interested in working with Gaia data. For more information and to register, visit the workshop homepage.

14/07/2016 A gift from Gaia to Pluto observers on the 1st anniversary of a historic flyby

It is just a star out of a billion, but it happens to hide behind Pluto on 19 July 2016. The improved Gaia stellar positions in Gaia DR1 (to be released on 14 September 2016) will be useful for occultation observations. With Pluto these are of particular interest as the details of the fading, when Pluto moves in front of the star, will reveal details about the atmosphere and its possible changes since the flyby of the New Horizons mission 1 year ago (14 July 2015). Observers exactly aligned with the centre of Pluto and the star could record an ephemeral brightness increase due to light focused by the atmosphere of the dwarf planet as if it was a lens. This "central flash", showing up only for a few seconds, provides the most detailed information possible from remote observations, but also requires to accurately know the position of the star and of Pluto. The Gaia position for UCAC4 345-180315 at epoch 2015.0 in the J2000 system is Right Ascension 286.8421576 degrees and Declination -21.1745647 degrees (19h7m22.1178s -21d10’28.433”). With Gaia's position accuracy, which is 1 milliarcsec for this star at epoch 2015.0, the biggest uncertainty of the timing and location of the event as observed from the Earth will be due to uncertainty of the precise Pluto orbit. That too will be tackled by Gaia and published in future data releases.

04/07/2016 Mark your calendar: Gaia data release set for 14 September

The first Gaia data release will be online on 14 September. It will include the positions and G magnitude for about one billion stars using observations taken between 25 July 2014 and 16 September 2015. In addition, for a subset of data – about 2 million stars in common between the Tycho-2 Catalogue and Gaia – there will be a five-parameter astrometric solution (TGAS), giving the positions, parallaxes, and proper motions for those objects. Photometric data for RR Lyrae and Cepheid variable stars that were observed frequently during a special scanning mode that repeatedly covered the ecliptic poles will also be made public. Further details are available on the release pages. Read the whole story here.

01/07/2016 Vacancy: Software Developer at IoA Cambridge

The Institute of Astronomy (Cambridge) invites applications for the position of Software Developer. The post-holder will work as part of the local DPCI (Cambridge Data Processing Centre) team of scientists/developers on data processing software for the ground segment of the mission, implementing data processing infrastructure components and algorithms for the calibration and removal of instrumental signatures from the scientific data generated by the satellite. Further details and requirements are specified in the job description here. The deadline for applications is 15 August 2016.

01/07/2016 Vacancy: Research Assistant/Associate(s) in Cambridge

The Institute of Astronomy (Cambridge) invites applications for one or more positions for Research Assistant(s)/Associate(s) related to the analysis, processing and validation of the Gaia photometric data. Further details and requirements are specified in the job description here. The deadline for applications is 15 August 2016.

03/06/2016 Vacancy: Quality assurance, testing and validation engineer at the University of Geneva

The Geneva Observatory invites applications for the position of quality assurance, testing and validation engineer for the Gaia data processing and analysis of variable objects. The successful candidate should have the following skills: organisational planning, quality assurance and documentation writing, testing and validation, operational work, knowledge of Java or Postgres (and/or sofware/database development). A scientific background and/or experience with large sets of data is a plus. The deadline for applications is 17 June 2016. A detailed job description is available here.

21/04/2016 GENIUS Documentary: Gaia - Teamwork For A Billion Stars

A Gaia documentary, produced by Stefan Jordan and Klaus Jäger, with financial support from the FP7 Gaia-GENIUS project, was released on 21 April. The 50-minute video "Gaia - Teamwork for a billion stars" was filmed during the DPAC consortium meeting which took place in Leiden in November last year. The documentary is available on YouTube.

29/03/2016 Postdoctoral position on Gaia and massive stars in Liège

The High-Energy Astrophysics Group of the Department of Astrophysics, Geophysics and Oceanography of the University of Liège (Belgium) is offering a postdoctoral position to participate in the development of projects related to massive stars and the ESA cornerstone mission Gaia. The position is funded by the Concerted Research Actions (ARC) programme. The appointment is initially for one year with a possible extension for a second year subject to funding and performance. The starting date is negotiable but preferably before 1 June 2016. The application deadline is 1 May 2016. Further information is available here.

01/03/2016 Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop at ESAC - pre-registration

This is the first announcement for the "Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop", jointly organised by ESA and DPAC, to be held at ESAC, near Madrid, Spain, on 2 - 4 November 2016. The pre-registration is open now and will close on 18 March 2016. Detailed information about the workshop is available on the data release workshop website. To pre-register, visit this website. Pre-registration will give precedence at the registration phase.

23/02/2016 Postdoctoral position on young low-mass stars

A Postdoctoral position is available to work with Alessandro Lanzafame at INAF – Catania Astrophysical Observatory on the "Identification and determination of astrophysical parameters of young low-mass stars in the Gaia mission". The Research fellowship duration is 12 months with the possibility of a one year extension. Additional details are available here. Applications must be received by 13:00 (local time) on 18 March 2016.

09/02/2016 The first Gaia intermediate data release

The Gaia Science Team and Data Processing Consortium Executive had a joint meeting to evaluate the progress in data processing toward the first data release (Gaia-DR1). Some delays and a few late calibration improvements lead to the completion of data processing by the end of March. Although the data quality looks very good, it was jointly decided not to make any compromises in the validation activities starting at the beginning of April. The current schedule anticipates the release of Gaia-DR1 toward the end of summer 2016.

02/02/2016 Gaia Alerting Again

The Gaia Photometric Science Alerts Pipeline is back in action! The Alerts team is once again running routine detection of transient sources as Gaia scans the sky. 36 new alerts have already been published since mid-January. Read the whole article here.

06/01/2016 Vacancy: 2016 ESAC Gaia trainee project

ESA is offering a Gaia trainee project opportunity at ESAC in 2016. The main objective of the traineeship is to apply 2D PSF deconvolution techniques to retrieve all the astrometric information stored in SM SIF images. General purpose tools such as Daophot or Sextractor will be used in the beginning, with the goal of doing some exploratory steps toward developing ad-hoc tools using Gaia calibrated PSF models. Detailed information about the project can be found on the ESAC trainees page. The deadline for applications is 12 January 2016.