News archive - Gaia
New tracking station ready for service
Post doc position at the Leiden Observatory (The Netherlands)
Young Graduate Trainee (YGT) opportunity in Gaia for 2013
DPAC CU9 AO
Postdoc positions related to Gaia-ESO Survey (Cambridge, Heidelberg and Oxford)
Giant tracking station readies for operation
Launcher separation test and Payload Module acceptance vibration tests completed
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
Gaia outreach videos
Postdoctoral research associate at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (Heidelberg)
Payload Module ready for thermal testing
Service Module thermal testing completed
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
Vacancy notice: Research associate/Software engineer at the Lohrmann Observatory, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
Gaia Phased Array Antenna delivered and integrated
Vacancy notice: Position for a Research Associate at the Institute of Astronomy (Cambridge)
Gaia Phased Array Antenna in test chamber
Vacancy notice: Position for a Research Engineer at the Observatory of Paris (Meudon)
Vacancy notice: Position for a scientific collaborator in Geneva
Vacancy notice: Position for a software engineer (Java) in Geneva
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
Basic Angle Monitor delivered for integration
Vacancy notice: Gaia software developer at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium)
Vacancy notice: Gaia position for an engineer/postdoc at the Observatory of Paris (Meudon)
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
Open vacancy for a Java software developer at ARI Heidelberg
Open vacancy for a Gaia-related postdoc at ARI Heidelberg
Sunshield deployment test successfully completed
Gaia has passed a critical test: the spacecraft sunshield has been deployed successfully. During October 2011, the Flight Model (FM) Deployable Sunshield Assembly (DSA) was delivered to Astrium and integrated with the FM Service Module and Thermal Tent and a mass-representative model of the payload module. Once integrated, the first deployment test of the DSA mounted on the spacecraft took place in Astrium on 21 October. This test demonstrated correctness of alignment, confirmed the deployment functionality and verified the flatness of the deployed DSA. For more information, visit the Science & Technology and ESA web pages.
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 14 is now available. In this issue you will learn more about the hardship Gaia will go through before it gets qualified for a real flight into space, the qualification of DPAC software, etc. For more information, visit the following link.
Vacancy notice: Gaia postdoctoral position at MPIA (Heidelberg)
The MPIA has a vacancy for a postdoctoral researcher to work on preparations for the analysis and scientific exploitation of the Gaia data. The deadline for applications is 10 December 2011. For more information, visit the following web page.
First Soyuz liftoff from the French Guiana
Soyuz lifts off successfully for the first time from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana with the same configuration as for the Gaia launch in 2013. This time, it has carried the first two Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites. ESA press release can be found here.
Vacancy notice: Java software engineer at the University of Barcelona
The Gaia team at the University of Barcelona (UB) has a vacant position for an engineer, preferably computer or telecom to develop and maintain software for simulations, massive processing and scientific data mining for the Gaia mission. Click here for more information.
Vacancy notice: Scientific researcher/Software developer at Lohrmann Observatory, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
Lohrmann Observatory invites applications for a position to work in the field of astrometric solution for Gaia. Click here for more information. The evaluation of the applications will start on 16 November 2011, but later applications will be considered until a suitable candidate is identified.
e2v celebrates the successful delivery of imaging sensors for Gaia
On Thursday 6th October, e2v was joined by representatives from the European Space Agency (ESA), Astrium SAS (the prime contractor for Gaia), key suppliers and local dignitaries for a celebration at their headquarters in Chelmsford, UK, to mark the successful delivery of over 150 e2v imaging sensors for Gaia. For more information, visit e2v and BBC pages.
Gaia mirrors ready to shine
Gaia has passed another major milestone after the completion of 10 state-of-the-art mirrors. The integration of the last two mirrors is now ongoing. For more information, visit the ESA Science & Technology pages.
New PhD studentship available at the IoA (Cambridge)
A new opening for a GREAT PhD position at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, has become available. The closing date for applications is 30 Sep 2011 and the start of the 3-year position would be January 2012. Further details can be found at the following link.
Gaia Payload Module vibration testing completed
In late June, mechanical testing of the Gaia Payload Module was performed at the facilities of Intespace in Toulouse, France, under the direction of the Prime Contractor, Astrium. The results have been analysed and the testing declared successfully completed. For more information, visit ESA SciTech pages.
Vacancy notice: postdoctoral / engineering position at the Observatory of Paris - Meudon
The GEPI is seeking for a postdoctoral candidate / engineer + experience for software project management and development for the processing of spectroscopic data. The deadline for applications is 27 September 2011. For more information, visit the following web page.
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 13 is now available. This summer issue brings in as usual the presentation of two DPAC participating institutes, in Spain and in Belgium. On the technical columns you will learn about the brand new Solar system ephemeris to be used for both the data processing and the spacecraft navigation and will discover how epoch radial velocities are unfolded from the RVS calibrated spectra. For more information, visit the following link.
Vacancy notice: Gaia postdoctoral position at the MPIA (Heidelberg)
The 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 15 September 2011. For more information, visit the following web page.
Billion pixel Gaia camera starts to take shape
Another milestone in the development of Gaia was passed on 1 June when the 106 electronic detectors of its billion pixel camera were assembled like a large mosaic for the first time. More information also available in the ESA News web pages and in the ESA Science and Technology pages.
Tycho Brahe prize for Prof. Michael Perryman
The European Astronomical Society (EAS) has announced that the 2011 Tycho Brahe Prize of the EAS has been awarded to Prof. Michael Perryman for his crucial role in the fostering of high precision, global stellar astrometry from space, in particular the development of the Hipparcos mission. Full details can be found in the EAS Press Release. More information also available in the ESA Science and Technology pages.
Postdoctoral fellowships available at SIM (Laboratory for Systems, Instrumentation and Modelling), Lisbon
SIM is seeking postdoctoral fellows to strengthen their activities, in particular, astronomical instrumentation and data processing, planets, astrophysical exploitation of Gaia, namely in the fields of structure and evolution of the Milky Way, star clusters and stellar variability. For more information, visit the following web page. The deadline for applications is 31 May 2011.
ESA hands over keys to Soyuz launch site
The official ceremony marking ESA's handover of the Soyuz launch site to Arianespace took place last Saturday at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, after the site was declared ready for the first flight and the completion of a simulated launch campaign (29 April - 5 May). This dry run ensured that the Soyuz and the new facilities work together perfectly, while allowing the teams to train under realistic launch conditions. It also validated all the procedures during the final phase before launch, except the fuelling of the vehicle. The vehicle was transferred from the preparation building to the launch zone and erected into the vertical position. The mobile gantry was then rolled out to the pad and the vehicle's upper composite, comprising the Fregat upper stage and payload fairing, was hoisted on top of the launcher. The campaign ended with a simulated liftoff and flight downrange. For more information, visit ESA web pages.
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 12 is available from late last week and there you will find information about the new Soyuz dedicated launch site at the Guiana Space Centre (French Guiana), the current perfomances of the CU8 object classifiers or the independent sphere reconstruction currently developed by the Torino group. For more information, visit the following link.
Successful completion of Mission Critical Design Review
The Gaia Mission Critical Design Review (CDR) was successfully completed on 13 April 2011. This review focused in particular on the interfaces between the spacecraft, the launcher, and the ground segment, involving both the Mission Operations Centre and the Science Operations Centre. The science-performance pages have been brought in line with the most recent performance predictions made by Astrium.
Lennart Lindegren, Dr. Honoris Causa of the Observatory of Paris
Lennart Lindegren, Professor at Lund University, received the title of Dr. Honoris Causa of Observatory of Paris on the 14th April 2011 in recognition of more than 35 years of contributions to astrometry, and more generally, to astronomy. For more information, visit the Picture of the Week section.
Soyuz launch site ready for first flight
The Soyuz site at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana is now ready for its first launch. ESA handed over the complex to Arianespace on the 31st March, marking a major step towards this year's inaugural flight. For more information, visit the following web page. There are also updated pictures in the Gaia image & movie gallery.
Vacancy notice: post-doctoral position at the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (France)
Applications are invited for a post-doctoral position at the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (OCA) to work on Galactic Archaeology by means of high-resolution spectroscopic surveys of the Milky-Way stellar populations. The OCA is strongly involved in the preparation of the Gaia mission and the ground-based spectroscopic complementary survey (e.g. ESO-GAIA). The closing date for applications is May 10th, 2011. For more information, visit the following web page.
Little Books of Gaia available in Hungarian
The Little Books of Gaia are summaries that cover different aspects of the Gaia mission (history of astrometry, search for planets, ...). They are now available also in Hungarian in the Educational material link (left hand menu).
Call for Letters of Interest to participate in the preparatory activities for the Gaia archive access
ESA invites groups in Member States, wishing to participate in the preparatory activities for the Gaia archive access working group, to submit a Letter of Interest to ESA outlining their area of expertise and potential contribution. The deadline for submitting 'Letters of Interest to participate in the preparatory activities for the Gaia archive access' is 15 April 2011. For more information visit the ESA Science & Technology website.
Vacancy notice: PhD position in Astronomy & Astrophysics at Lund Observatory, Sweden
Lund Observatory invites applications for a new PhD position. The successful applicant will work on topics related to fundamental physics and space astrometry. Applicants with an interest in numerical simulations and astrometry are particularly encouraged to apply. More information and links to the online application forms are available here. The closing date for applications is March 31st, 2011.
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 11 is now available and there you will find information about two key elements, one related to the sky modelling and the other to the data handling. For more information, visit the following link.
Vacancy notice: Software Engineer/Scientific collaborator at the Lohrmann Observatory, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
The Lohrmann Observatory invites applications for a position to work on the preparation for the Gaia data processing. The successful candidate will participate and take responsibilities in the development of algorithms and software for relativistic modeling and testing relativity with astrometric data. Click here for more information. The evaluation of the applications will start on 16 February 2011, but later applications will be considered until a suitable candidate is identified.
New Gaia logo
The new Gaia logo is now available for download in the Image & Movie gallery. The change of the Gaia logo is part of an ESA corporate identity process with new logos for all missions. The new logo can be used in documents and presentations or for any other outreach purposes. There is no need to update old material.
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 http://www.great-esf.eu/participate/participate.html. You can also sign up to the GREAT mailing list by visiting https://lists.cam.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/ast-great-announce.
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.
Gaia to lift off from Europe's Spaceport on a Soyuz launcher
Gaia will be carried into space by a Soyuz-STB/Fregat launch vehicle from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. David Southwood, ESA's Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, signed the contract for the launch with Jean-Yves LeGall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, at ESA Headquarters in Paris yesterday. For more information, visit the following web page.
Gaia science performance webpage
A new webpage has been released summarising the current prediction of the Gaia science performance. The webpage summarises the expected accuracies of the astrometric parameters as function of magnitude, colour, and position in the sky. In addition, the expected precision of astrophysical parameters extracted from the photometric data is summarised, together with the expected accuracies of the radial velocities as function of magnitude for a range of stars with various spectral types. The webpage will be maintained and will act as central repository for world-wide publication of Gaia's science-performance predictions. It can be accessed from the Gaia main portal by clicking on "Science performance" in the left-hand menu or directly by following this link.
ESA vodcast about astrometry
During the International Year of Astronomy, several video podcasts are being produced by ESA exploring the universe in which we live. Charting the Galaxy - from Hipparcos to Gaia discovers the motions of stars, how astronomers measure their distances and looks at the Gaia mission.
Vacancy notice: Project Management Officer at ESAC (Spain)
The scientific chairman and the executive committee of the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) are supported by the DPAC Project Office (PO), to which the day-to-day management of the overall DPAC development and operations is delegated. The INAF (Italian National Institute for Astrophysics) announces the open position of Project Management Officer to be part of the DPAC PO staff. However, this position (like the rest of the PO members) is located at ESAC (Spain). The position, implemented by INAF and financed by ASI, the Italian Space Agency, is expected to run until about 2020. More information can be found in the following pdf file and link. Closing date for applications is 15 December 2009.
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 6 is now available and there you will find information about how DPAC is planning the Integration Testing, the presentation of the Photometric Science Alerts system set up in CU5 and the principles of the absolute calibration of the radial velocities contrived by CU6 astronomers. For more information, visit the following link.
Vacancy notice: 2 positions as Gaia data processing system scientist at MSSL/UCL
As part of the significant MSSL/UCL involvement in ESA's Gaia mission, two posts are available for scientists to lead the scientific development of the core spectroscopic algorithms for the mission data processing. A track record in observational astronomy is essential, ideally including experience with space-based observations. Previous experience in algorithm development within team-based projects is desirable. The successful applicants 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 is implemented as part of the European-wide Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (Gaia DPAC). The role will require close collaboration with the software developers and wider science teams involved in the Gaia project, and the other members of the Astrophysics Group at MSSL/UCL. The applicants will also be encouraged to pursue a programme of research in the area of Galactic formation and evolution.
One post is initially for 1 year, with likely continuation. The other post is for 1-year fixed. The salary will be in the range: £ 28,839 to £ 35,469. The appointment grade will be commensurate with accomplishment and experience.
Informal enquiries may be made to Prof Mark Cropper.
Please apply online for this post at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/vacancies/adverts/job-list.html.
If there are any difficulties please contact Libby Daghorn at MSSL, University College London, Holmbury St Mary, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6NT, UK.
Closing date for applications is 15 December 2009.
Further information about MSSL in general can be found at http://www.mssl.ucl.ac.uk.
Please, quote ref:0916 in all correspondence.
Job description and person specification (pdf).
Post-doc position at the Observatory of Bologna (Italy) on Gaia photometric calibration
The Observatory of Bologna calls for applications to a postdoctoral position to work on the absolute calibration of the Gaia spectrophotometric system. The successful applicant will work in close collaboration with the Bologna group that investigates the scientific models for the absolute calibration of the instrument, and with the teams in Bologna, Barcelona and Groningen engaged in the ground-based observations needed for the definition and construction of the grid of spectrophotometric standars stars. The candidate should have experience in the observations, treatment and flux calibration of photometric and spectroscopic data. More details can be found in the official announcement, in Italian, at this link. For further information and help in compiling the Italian forms, please contact Elena Pancino. Closing date for applications is 12 November 2009.
The music behind Hipparcos
In the following link you will find a musical clock made of stars. It has been created using the public data from Hipparcos. Don't forget to turn your sound up.
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 5 is now available and there you will find information about how the Critical Design Review for the DPAC and SOC concluded, how Gaia will help to test General Relativity or the importance of the Gaia Basic Angle. For more information, visit the following link.
The Gaia torus is complete
At the end of June the Gaia mission passed a significant milestone when the 17 individual custom-built Silicon Carbide segments of the torus were brazed into one coherent structure at the BOOSTEC premises at Bazet near Tarbes, France. The torus is a key structural element of the spacecraft and will provide an ultra stable platform for the telescopes and payload. The successful results of the brazing process were concluded after a Mandatory Inspection Point of the torus on Monday 20 July 2009. For more information, visit the ESA Science and Technology news: "Constructing the Gaia torus" and "The Gaia torus is complete".
Tests on the Gaia Deployable Sunshield Assembly (DSA) at ESTEC
The qualification model (QM) of Gaia's deployable sunshield assembly is functionally representative of the flight model and comprises 3 rigid panels (plus the 2 sections between them). The QM test campaign includes functional testing (deployment), vibrational testing (launch conditions), environmental testing (including the thermal vacuum and thermal balance test), and life-cycle testing (ensuring its endurance with multiple deployment tests). More information
Erik Høg receives Russian Struve Medal
Associate Professor Emeritus Erik Høg has been awarded the Russian Struve Medal for his great contributions to the advancement of astrometry from the Earth and from space. Erik Høg was presented with the medal at a ceremony in Saint Petersburg. More information
Vacancy position: Scientific data analyst for Gaia (ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands)
A vacancy is available to work on the analysis and interpretation of radiation test data taken in the frame of the Gaia mission. The post, within the Gaia Project Scientist's Support Team at ESTEC, will support to define the optimum Gaia operating strategy to minimise the effects of radiation damage and also to determine and implement a strategy for radiation damage calibration in the on-ground data processing. In case of interest in this position, please contact us.
Announcement for the 2010 ESA Fellowship in Space Science
The new ESA Fellowship Programme is open for applications till the 1st October 2009. Fellowships are to begin in late 2010. If you are interested in a Gaia related topic, please, contact us.
The first 40 years of A&A
Due to its 40th anniversary, Astronomy & Astrophysics publishes a special issue (volume 500). It reprints the 40 most cited articles according to ADS for the last 40 years, together with commentaries that highlight their context and impact in astrophysics. Amongst them, you can find The Tycho-2 Catalogue of the 2.5 million brightest stars (Hog E., FabriciusC., Makarov V.V., et al., 2000, A&A, 355, L27) and The HIPPARCOS Catalogue (Perryman M. A. C., Lindegren L., Kovalevsky J., et al., 1997, A&A, 323, L49).
Gaia @ XXVII IAU General Assembly (Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 August)
Information regarding XXVII IAU General Assembly and related to Gaia has been posted in our web site. To access it go to the link on the bottom right corner of the main Gaia web page or visit the following link. In particular, the list of contributions (talks and posters) by Gaia members is available. Please, contact us in case of inaccuracies.
First planet discovered by astrometry
An extrasolar planet orbiting an ultracool M-dwarf, named VB10, has been discovered. This new planetary system, with a mass six times that of Jupiter and a period of 272 days, is remarkable not only because its star is near the lower mass limit for a star but also because it is the first extrasolar planet discovered by astrometric measurements. Astrometric observations of VB10 were taken over 9 years, using the CCD-based STEPS instrument at the 200 inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory. These observations revealed a planetary companion with a semi-major axis of 62 milli-arcsec. Gaia is expected to make thousands of such discoveries through monitoring of hundreds of thousands of FGKM stars within a few hundred pc of the Sun. For the particular star VB10 (at V ~ 17.3 mag), the individual Gaia CCD-transit observations will have centroiding errors around 300 micro-arcsec, which will allow a much more precise determination of the planetary characteristics of this system.
New science enabled by microarcsecond astrometry (21-23 July 09, Socorro, USA)
NRAO is hosting a workshop in New Mexico focusing on VLBI astrometry with the specific goal of reaching new communities and forming new collaborations. The meeting organizers believe there is an enormous potential to cooperate with Gaia to maximize the scientific potential of both instruments. Participation of Gaia scientists at the workshop is therefore encouraged. For more information, visit the conference web page.
Solar cycle prediction
The Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel has reached a consensus decision on the prediction of the next solar cycle (Cycle 24). The panel has agreed that solar minimum occurred in December 2008 and has decided that the next solar cycle will be below average in intensity. Given the predicted date of solar minimum and the predicted maximum intensity, solar maximum is now expected to occur in May 2013. For more information, visit the NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Center web page.
Release of the new issue of the DPAC Newsletter
The DPAC Newsletter no. 4 is now available and there you will find information about how Gaia satellite operations are being prepared by ESOC team at Darmstadt, how dozens of millions of Non-Single Stars (NSS) will be handled by Coordination Unit 4 or an approximate calculation on the volume of data Gaia will generate. For more information, visit the following link.
AGIS software in the Cloud Expo Europe
The First International Cloud Computing Expo Europe will be held in Prague (18 - 19 May 2009). The attendants will discover how and why the cost of computation, application hosting and content storage and delivery is plunging fast by several orders of magnitude thanks to Cloud Computing. Gaia will be present in this event as an example of a scientific application feasible to be run in the cloud. For more information, visit the conference web page.
SOC/DPAC Design Review kicked off
The Design Review of the Gaia Science Operations Centre (SOC) and Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) has been kicked off on 5 May by a series of presentations to the review panel members. The review is meant to ensure the correctness and completeness of the design, planning, and testing procedures and plans of the science ground segment. The review procedure - outlining the review objectives, organisation, participants, schedule, and contents of the data package - can be found in Livelink (access restricted to DPAC users). All review documents have been uploaded on Livelink.
Astronomical Applications of Astrometry
The book "Astronomical Applications of Astrometry. Ten Years of Exploitation of the Hipparcos Satellite Data" has been written by Michael Perryman and published in December 2008 by Cambridge University Press. It reviews the applications of the data in different areas, describing the subject and the state-of-the-art before Hipparcos, and summarising all major contributions to the topic made by Hipparcos. It contains a detailed overview of the Hipparcos and Tycho Catalogues, their annexes and their updates. For more information, see Science and Technology web pages
ESA's 'billion-pixel' camera
P. Garé, G. Sarri and R. Schmidt (Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration) have written an article in the ESA Bulletin explaining the challenges of the Gaia mission and how they will be achieved. The full article is available from the ESA Bulletin (February 2009 issue).
Vacancy position: Software engineer (Open University, UK)
The Open University calls for applications to work on the processing of science alerts and the formulation of 2D-images form the Gaia mission. The candidate should have knowledge of software development using Java, C++, Python or similar languages in a team-based environment. A degree in a relevant discipline is required (e.g. Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, Engineering). Full details are available at the following page. Closing date for applications: 13 March 2009.
Video Processing Unit (VPU) test model delivered
The Gaia Video Processing Unit (VPU) development activity has recently been finalized with the delivery of the engineering model from Astrium UK to Astrium France. The unit is responsible for the real-time processing and commanding of star data transmitted by the focal plane assembly. Read more here.
Workshop on Satellite dynamics: Simulation challenges and requirements
The workshop on Satellite dynamics will be held in Bremen (Germany) on 18-19 June 09 and is focused on modelling aspects and simulation techniques applied for scientific quality monitoring and data processing. For more information, please, visit the workshop webpage. The deadline for registration and talk abstract is 31 March, 2009.
Job vacancy: Java Software Engineer
As part of the significant MSSL/UCL involvement in ESA's Gaia mission, a new post is available for a Software Engineer to join our team developing the core spectroscopic algorithms for the mission data processing. Knowledge and experience of software development using Java, C++ or other object-oriented languages and techniques is essential. Previous experience in algorithm development within team-based projects is desirable. The post is also expected to work on other on-going virtual observatory projects, like AstroGrid, at MSSL. Further information can be found online. Closing date for applications is 3rd March 2009.
IAU Symposium 261: Relativity in Fundamental Astronomy
Additional travel grants are available for participants in IAU Symposium 261 (27 April - 1 May, Virginia Beach). Deadline for abstract submissions and grant applications has been extended to 26 February. Updated information is available online.
State-of-the-art grating for Gaia
An important milestone has been reached for the Gaia Radial Velocity Spectrometer (RVS): the full-size demonstrator model of the RVS grating - a key component responsible for the dispersion of the light into constituent wavelengths - has been built by industry and was delivered to ESA last month. Read more here.
Summer School Alpbach 2009. Exoplanets: Discovering and characterizing Earth type planets
The Summer School Alpbach 2009 (Austria, July 21-30) will address innovative mission concepts aiming to increase our knowledge of extrasolar planets. Those future missions will help us to increase the number of planetary systems known and will be able to tell us more about the physical characteristics of the planets themselves. Particular emphasis will be given to the study of Earth-like planets found in the habitable zone of other stars since these planets could harbour life. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2009. For more information, visit the school web page.
ESA's Report to the 37th COSPAR Meeting
The 37th Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) took place in Montreal (Canada) in July 13-20, 2008. The ESA report to this meeting regarding Gaia mission is available online.
EIROforum School on Instrumentation
The EIROforum School of Instrumentation (ESI) is a biennial event, jointly organized by the Instrumentation Working Group of the EIROforum organizations. The objective of ESI is to teach detector physics and the basic principles of instrumentation to young researchers (PhD students and postdocs) and engineers, mainly from the EIRO organizations. The first school is held at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, 11 - 15 May 2009. Apart from the core programme, this first edition of the school will cover radiation hard technologies for detectors and electronics as highlight topic. For more information, please visit the following web page. Deadline for applications: March 1, 2009.
Vacancy notice: Software Development Engineer (IMCCE/Paris Observatory, France)
The IMCCE/Paris Observatory invites applications for a Software Engineer to work on the development and maintenance of applications to be developed at IMCCE within DPAC, the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium. More details, in French and English, are available at IMCCE at the following link. Closing date: January 21, 2009.
Vacancy notice: position at the Teramo Observatory (Italy)
The Observatory of Teramo has a vacant position for Master or PhD graduate to work on the pre-processing of raw BP/RP data for blended and contaminated sources. The Teramo group, with the teams of Leiden and Rome, investigates how to extract the clean spectra from the overlapping ones through a careful disentangling of all components and of the sky background. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in the treatment of astronomical images and knowledge of the Java programming language. The official announcement and forms, in Italian, can be found at the following link. For further information and help in compiling the Italian forms, please contact Anna Piersimoni. Closing date for application is 20 January 2009.
Euro-VO: Virtual Observatory School
The EURO-VO project in the framework of the EURO-VO Astronomical Infrastructure for Data Access (AIDA), is organising an international School at ESO, Garching bei Muenchen, Germany (30 March - 2 April 2009). The goals of the School are to expose European astronomers to the variety of VO tools and services available today so that they can use them efficiently for their own research. Deadline for registration is February 15, 2009. For more details, visit the workshop's web page.
Vacancy notice: position at ESAC (Madrid)
There is currently a post open (starting next summer) for an optical engineer to join the Calibration team at ESAC. Interested parties can contact Ralf Kohley or William O'Mullane. Closing date: January 26, 2009.
IMCCE position deadline postponed
Deadline of the previous job announcement at IMCCE has been postponed. The IMCCE/Paris Observatory invites applications for a Software Engineer to work on the development and maintenance of applications to be developed at IMCCE within DPAC, the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium. More details, in French, are available at IMCCE. New closing date: December 10, 2008.
Gaia SIM meeting
Gaia SIM meeting took place 6-7 November 2008 in London. The meeting was focused on the science cases achievable in the astrometry domain below 10 microarcsec accuracy. The main purpose of the meeting was to present the science topics that will be addressed with the high accuracy Gaia astrometry data. This will help the SIM scientists to prepare their unique science cases in support of their project. The Gaia presentations can be found here.
Database Workshop 2009
Database Workshop 2009 is intended for people interested in databases and their use in the data processing of Gaia. It will take place at ESAC, Madrid, 9-10 February 2009. First day is advised for beginners: introduction of concepts and examples to get familiar with Oracle, MySQL and other databases. Second day is advised for advanced users: performance and tips. The number of attendants is limited to 15-20 people. More information can be found at the following link.
Vacancy notice: Position at the Observatory of Bologna (Italy) to work on Gaia calibration
The Gaia team at the Observatory of Bologna has a vacant position for a Master or a PhD graduate with expertise in calibration of photometric and spectroscopic instrumentation. Within the Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, CU5 is responsible for the treatment of the G-band integrated photometry and for the low-resolution BP/RP spectrophotometry. The Bologna group investigates the scientific models for the absolute calibration of the instrument and, with the teams in Barcelona and Groningen, is engaged in the ground-based observations needed for the definition and construction of the grid of spectrophotometric standars stars. The candidate should have experience in the observations, treatment and flux calibration of photometric and spectroscopic data. The contract for this position, supported by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), is initially for one year and is renewable for up to 4 years. The starting date will be 2 January 2009. The official announcement and forms, in Italian, can be found at the following link. For further information and help in compiling the Italian forms, please contact Elena Pancino. Closing date for applications is 28 November 2008.
Vacancy notice: Software Developer Engineer (IMCCE/Paris Observatory, France)
The IMCCE/Paris Observatory invites applications for a Software Engineer to work on the development and maintenance of applications to be developed at IMCCE within DPAC, the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium. More details, in French, are available at IMCCE. Closing date: November 24, 2008.
Second announcement of the IAU Symposium 261
The preparations for the IAU Symposium 261 "Relativity in Fundamental Astronomy: Dynamics, Reference frames, and Data Analysis" which will be held in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA, 27 April - 1 May 2009 are progressing very well. Updated information about the Symposium is now available in the following link. The preliminary scientific program, including invited talks, is given on the website. If you are interested in giving a contributed talk, presenting a poster or attending, please check the deadlines on the web page.
Vacancy notice: Software Developer Engineer (IoA, Cambridge)
We are seeking to fill a new post (possibly two depending on funding) for a Software Engineer to join the development team working at the Institute of Astronomy, which has a leading role in development of the data processing and analysis system for ESA's Gaia mission. The post requires an exceptional individual with knowledge and experience of software development using Java, C++, Python or other similar languages and carries responsibility for the design and development of code modules within the processing system which will handle the photometric analysis of the Gaia photometric data. In particular you will be involved in the team developing the internal photometric calibration for Gaia, and thus develop modules concerned with the large scale calibration, application of those calibrations, and calibration of the spectro-photometric data. More details are available in the following link. The closing date for applications is 20 November 2008.
Vacancy notice: Post-doctoral position in automatic stellar classification
The Observatory of the Côte d'Azur (Nice, France) calls for applications to a postdoctoral position to work on the automatic classification of the stellar spectra collected by ESO instruments. The successful applicant will work in close collaboration with P. de Laverny, A. Recio-Blanco, V. Hill and A. Bijaoui, members of the Gaia group of the Côte d'Azur Observatory. In this group, a specific algorithm is developed (MATISSE, Recio-Blanco et al., 2006, MNRAS, 370, 461) in order to automatically derive the stellar atmospheric parameters and chemical abundances from spectra collected with current instruments or future ones, such as the Gaia/RVS. In the framework of a collaborative work with ESO, this algorithm will be applied to the ESO stellar spectra in order to provide to the whole astronomical community the stellar parameters together with the reduced spectra directly from the ESO archives. More details are available in the following link. The closing date for applications is 10 December 2008.
Report of the ESA-ESO working group on Galactic Populations, Chemistry and Dynamics
The main task of this Working Group has been to review the state-of-the-art knowledge of the Milky Way galaxy, to identify the future challenges, and to propose which tools would be needed to successfully tackle and solve the remaining questions. This Working Group has made recommendations that should allow dissecting our backyard laboratory, the Galaxy, even further. ESO survey telescopes about to come operational and the upcoming ESA Gaia mission are a guarantee for opening new horizons and making new discoveries. The main recommendations this Working Group has made to ESA and ESO are to guarantee the expected tremendous capabilities of these new facilities, to vigourously organise their synergies and to jointly give ways to European astronomers to be leaders in the exploitation of their output data. The publication is available in the following link.
Call for "Expressions of Interest" in participating in the Gaia Research for European Astronomy Training (GREAT) ESF Research Network Proposal
The ESA Gaia community are aiming to facilitate the scientific use of the Gaia satellite in addressing a wide range of key topics in astronomy. With this in mind a steering committee consisting of members from the ESA Gaia Science Team and from the Gaia Data Processing Consortium Executive has been formed to organise a community proposal to support a Science Network (funded by the European Science Foundation) which will address the scientific issues in which Gaia will have a major impact. This network will fund community training events, workshops, exchange visits, and thus help build collaborative scientific cooperation across Europe and the wider world in turn delivering major advances in science. At this stage the community is invited to "Express an Interest" in joining in this effort. Full details of the "Expressions of Interest" call are available at the GREAT website. Contact email is also available. The deadline for response is Friday 26 September 2008.
Workshop: Earth-based support to Gaia Solar System science (Beaulieu sur Mer, France - 27 & 28 October)
Gaia has the potential of changing our view of the Solar System, and of the asteroid population in particular. Due to the peculiar characteristics of those bodies, and to their physical description, Earth-based observations can play a major role for complementing Gaia data. The preparation and the optimization of ground-based complementary observations requires a good understanding of the expected Gaia results, and an international coordination effort. All interested people are convened for a first reflection on the subject. For more information, see the workshop webpage. Deadline for registration is 19 September 2008.
Vacancy notice: Gaia position at Geneva Observatory (Switzerland)
The Geneva Observatory invites applications for a position to work on preparations for the Gaia data processing. The successful candidate will develop algorithms for classifying and analysing photometric and radial velocity times series of astronomical sources. The work involves: statistics; basic research into machine learning algorithms; software development, testing and documentation; application of classification algorithms to simulated and real data; analysis of results; publication of methods and scientific results. More details can be found via web. The closing date for applications is 15 September 2008.
First announcement of IAU Symposium No. 261
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) will hold the symposium "Relativity in Fundamental Astronomy. Dynamics, Reference Frames and Data Analysis" on 27 April - 1 May 2009 in Virginia Beach (USA). Principal topics are: astronomical reference frames in relativistic framework, relativistic modelling of observational data, astronomical tests of relativity, relativistic dynamical modelling, relativity in astrodynamics and space navigation, modern observational techniques in fundamental astronomy, time measurement and time scales, astronomical constants and units of measurements. Deadline to submit abstracts for presentations is 30 November 2008. For more information, see the announcement web page.
Proceedings IAU Symposium No. 248 online
Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union Symposium No. 248 are now available online. IAU Symposium No. 248 was titled "A Giant Step: From Milli- to Micro- Arcsecond Astrometry" and was held in Shanghai, China Nanjing (15-19 October 2007).
Vacancy notice: Gaia software engineer at Heidelberg (Germany)
The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) invites applications for a Gaia software engineer to support the development of data analysis software. The position is available from 1 October 2008. More details can be found via web. The closing date for applications is 1 September 2008.
I-science for astronomy workshop at Leiden
I-science workshop on data mining, distributed computing and visualization for astronomy will be held at the Lorentz Center, Leiden, 13 - 17 October 2008. This workshop is aimed mainly at advanced master students, graduate students and postdocs to stimulate the interaction between computer scientists and astronomers by exploring innovative astronomical applications for data mining, data modelling, distributed computing and visualization. For more information see the announcement document. Closing date for registration is 15 September 2008.
ELSA PhD position available at Barcelona
The Research Training Network ELSA invites applications for a PhD (postgraduate) study fellowship at the Departament d'Astronomia i Meteorologia, University of Barcelona (Spain) to work on Refinement of the Universe model in the Gaia simulator. This is a 3-4 year, full-time position open for non-Spanish nationals. Applications should be submitted by e-mail according to instructions on the ELSA web pages. Closing date for applications is 30 June 2008.
Vacancy notice: Software engineer/software developer at Heidelberg (Germany)
The Gaia group at Astronomisches Rechen-Institut (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. Basic knowledge of German is expected. The position is available from August 1, 2008. More details (in German) can be found via web. Deadline for applications: 25 June 2008.
Vacancy notice: Data analysis and algorithm development postdoc positions (Heidelberg, Germany)
The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) invites applications for two postdoctoral positions to work on the development of classification and parameter estimation algorithms in preparation for Gaia. 75% of the time will be spent developing and testing algorithms and implementing them into software. The remaining 25% may be spent working on related science projects. For more information see the announcement web page. Closing date for applications is 1 September 2008.
Testing Workshop at Toulose
CU1 is preparing a workshop focused on Software Test Plans/Reports at Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees (OMP), Toulouse. It will be held on 15 - 16 July and is intended for people interested in the testing within DPAC and especially for those in charge of writing the Software Test Plans and Software Test Reports (by the end of cycle 5, the Test Plans must have been submitted). It encompasses not only CU STP/STR writers, but also DPC members that will be involved in their DPC testing activities. Further details can be found on the workshop site.
New Gaia Spacecraft Operations Manager
From the 1st of June, David Milligan is the successor of Andreas Rudolph as the new Gaia Spacecraft Operations Manager. David joined ESOC in 2000 and has been working on the Smart 1, Envisat, Sentinel-3 and ERS2 missions. His previous assignment was as ERS2 Spacecraft Operations Manager.
Vacancy notice: DPAC Project Management
The scientific chairman and the executive committee of the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) are to be supported by the so-called Project Office, to which the day-to-day management of the overall DPAC development and operations is delegated. Four positions will presently become open to populate the Project Office at ESAC, Villafranca, Madrid, Spain: The Project Coordinator (also head of Project Office), the Project Scheduler, the Interface Engineer and the Product Assurance Engineer. All details for applicants can be found in the following document and links therein. Closing date for applications is 30 June 2008.
Vacancy notice: Postdoc position available at Observatory of Bologna (Italy)
The candidate should have experience in the observations, treatment and flux calibration of photometric and spectroscopic data. The contract is for one year with the possibility of an extension of up to 4 years. The starting date will be in September - October 2008. The Italian official announcement and forms can be found in the following link. For further information and help in compiling the Italian forms, please contact Elena Pancino. Closing date for applications is 15 June 2008.
Vacancy notice: DPAC Project Management
The scientific chairman and the executive committee of the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) are to be supported by the so-called Project Office, to which the day-to-day management of the overall DPAC development and operations is delegated. Four positions will presently become open to populate the Project Office at ESAC, Villafranca, Madrid, Spain: The Project Coordinator (also head of Project Office), the Project Scheduler, the Interface Engineer and the Product Assurance Engineer. All details for applicants can be found in the following document and links therein. Closing date for applications is 1 June 2008.
Signature of the Multilateral Agreement concerning Gaia Data Processing
The Multilateral Agreement (MLA) among the European Space Agency, the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt E.V., the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, the Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Astronomie, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Swedish National Space Board was signed in Paris, on 14 February 2008, and in Leiden, on 19 February 2008. The MLA shall remain in force until ten years after launch of Gaia, or until 31 December 2022, whichever comes first, unless extended by written agreement of the Parties. In the picture, you can see some of the people involved in the agreement (from left to right: F. Casoli, P. Román Fernández, K.F. Wakker, M. Cropper, G.F. Bignami, L. Nordh, T. Galinski, W. Verschueren, W. Benz. In the front: D. Southwood and F. Favata).
ELSA Postdoc fellowship available at Leiden Observatory
The Research Training Network ELSA invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship at Leiden Observatory, Leiden (The Netherlands), to work on Improved attitude modelling for scanning astrometric space missions. This is a 2 year, full-time position starting no later than 1 October 2008, open for non-Dutch nationals. Applications should be submitted by e-mail according to instructions on the ELSA web pages. Closing date for applications is 14 April 2008.
Workshop on Techniques for Scientific Mission Monitoring and Data Analysis
ZARM (Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity) at Bremen University is preparing a workshop with the title "Satellite dynamics: Modelling, In-Orbit Calibration and Data Processing - A Workshop on Techniques for Scientific Mission Monitoring and Data Analysis" to be held on 21 - 23 May, 2008 at ZARM, Bremen, Germany. The primary goal is to share knowledge between different missions and fields of science in order to allow the identification of similarities and the transfer of ideas, approaches, methodologies and techniques between the various fields. The focus will be more on the methodology and the techniques applied for scientific quality monitoring and data processing rather than on the scientific result of a mission. Further details can be found on the workshop website. The deadline for abstracts is 31 March, 2008.
Vacancy notice: Position at the University of Barcelona to work on Gaia calibration
The Gaia team at the University of Barcelona (UB) has a vacant position for a PhD graduate with expertise in calibration of photometric and spectroscopic instrumentation. Within the Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, CU5 is responsible for the G-band photometric reduction (sensitivity, detection of variability), and for the low-resolution spectra BP/RP (sensitivity, geometry, wavelength scale). The UB group investigates the scientific models for internal calibration of the instrument and, with the teams in Bologna and Groningen, it is engaged in the ground-based observations needed for the absolute flux calibration. The UB is also responsible for the selection of the standard sources for the internal calibration. The contract for this position, supported by the Spanish Space National Plan, is initially for one year and it is renewable as long as the Gaia project is active. The starting date shall be May 1, 2008. Those interested should send a CV to Lola Balaguer. Professional referees and motivation letter will be also taken into account for the selection. For additional information, please contact Carme Jordi.
Gaia Object Generator web service launched
The Gaia Object Generator (GOG) web service has been deployed at CNES and is now available for use. GOG, a product of CU2, is designed to simulated catalogue data and main database data, including mission final products, for the Gaia mission. This new web service allows users to run GOG simulations on a third-party machine (at CNES) and to download the results when the simulations are complete. (GOG is also available as a standalone application.) Further details, including instructions on how to subscribe to this service, are available from the dedicated web site: http://gaia-gog.cnes.fr.
Gaia Calibration Working Group kick-off meeting
The Gaia Calibration Working Group has been constituted with representatives from ESA, Astrium and DPAC to revise and discuss calibration issues for Gaia, and will be chaired by Alessandro Atzei and Ralf Kohley. The kick-off meeting of this working group will take place at ESAC on the 22nd of February. For further information please contact Ralf Kohley.
ELSA PhD position available at Nice
The Research Training Network ELSA invites applications for a PhD (postgraduate) study fellowship at Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Nice (France), to work on Automatic stellar classification for Gaia. This is a 2.5 year, full-time position starting on 1 May 2008, open for non-French nationals. Applications should be submitted by e-mail according to instructions on the ELSA web pages. Closing date for applications is 16 March 2008.
Announcement for Java Workshop - Java08 - 16-19 June
The Gaia SOC is organising a Java Workshop for DPAC members to be held at ESAC on 16-19 June. The workshop format will be similar to that of the previous successful workshops, i.e. a two-day 'crash course' dealing with tools commonly used by Gaia developers (subversion, Ant, Eclipse, Java, GaiaTools, Data Access Layer, etc.) followed by a two-day informal advanced workshop touching on a number of specific topics (participants can request specific topics). Further details can be found on the GaiaWiki.
Gaia ground segment SRR completed
The System Requirements Review (SRR) for the Gaia ground segment has concluded. The final Board Report (available in Livelink) recognises the good status of the ground segment and concludes that, subject to the completion of all actions, the review objectives have been fully met. In addition to this final report the SOC/DPAC SRR panel report and SOC/DPAC SRR board report are also available from Livelink.
Vacancy notice: Software Engineer for Gaia Data Processing system development at Mullard Space Science Lab, University College London.
As part of the significant MSSL/UCL involvement in ESA's Gaia mission, a new post is available for a Software Engineer to join the team developing the core spectroscopic algorithms for the mission data processing. Knowledge and experience of software development using Java, C++ or other object-oriented languages and techniques is essential. A good degree in a numerate subject is required. Previous experience in algorithm development within team-based projects is desirable. The successful applicant will be a member of the MSSL team developing scientific data processing software for the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC). S/he will design and develop code modules within the processing chains that will determine radial velocities from the Gaia spectroscopic data. The post is initially for 3 years with possible extensions. Further information and details on how to apply can be found online. Closing date for applications is 22 February 2008.
Vacancy notice: Scientific community support position in the Gaia Team at ESTEC
The Gaia Project Scientist's 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 Project Scientist, Timo Prusti, as soon as possible. The successful candidate should be available to start in March 2008. This position is now closed to new applications.
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 http://www.ari.uni-heidelberg.de/gaia
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.
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.
Two postdoc positions on relativistic modelling and data processing for Gaia
The Lohrmann Observatory at the Dresden University of Technology is offering two postdoc positions to participate in the development of algorithms and software for relativistic modelling of microarcsecond astrometric observations and tests of fundamental physics with Gaia data. One position is for development of algorithms and software for Gaia data processing dedicated to finding an optimal scheme for testing relativity with Gaia. The second position is for theoretical and practical refinements of relativistic modelling for Gaia. Both positions are funded until the end of 2009 with the possibility for extensions. A starting date, for both positions, of 1 April 2006 is envisaged, but is flexible. Applications should be submitted by 15 February 2006.
Java in Gaia systems - workshop planned
The Gaia software development team at ESAC is planning a workshop covering topics in the design and development of Gaia systems using Java. The workshop, to be held over two days, is intended for individuals who will be developing software within the coordination units, in particular (but not exclusively) for CU3. Individuals interested in such a course should contact the organisers. (See Proposal for Java Workshop '06 for further details.)
Micro-arcsecond light bending by Jupiter
In a paper submitted to Classical & Quantum Gravity (see astro-ph/0512359), Crosta & Mignard have explored Gaia's capabilities for observing stars very close to Jupiter's limb as a test General Relativity. They derive the formulae relevant for the monopole and quadrupole light deflection by an oblate planet and describe a simulator to investigate the processing of the Gaia astrometric observation in the vicinity of the planet. The results should provide a fully independent determination of the PPN parameter gamma, and for the first time should reveal the bending effect due to the quadrupole moment with a 3-sigma confidence level.
Gaia photometric system paper accepted by MNRAS
"The design and performance of the Gaia photometric system" by Jordi et al, has been accepted for publication by the MNRAS. The paper presents the design and performance of the broad- and medium-band set of photometric filters adopted as the baseline for Gaia. The nineteen selected passbands (extending from the ultraviolet to the far-red), the criteria, and the methodology on which this choice has been based are discussed in detail. Photometric capabilities for characterizing the luminosity, temperature, gravity and chemical composition of stars are analysed. The automatic determination of these physical parameters for the large number of observations involved, for objects located throughout the entire Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, are discussed. Finally, the capability of the photometric system to deal with the main Gaia science case is outlined. The paper has been included in astro-ph as astro-ph/0512038.
Postdoc positions on Gaia data processing
Two postdoc positions are available at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, to work on preparations for the Gaia data processing. The positions involve the development of algorithms for astrophysical classification and parameter estimation using Gaia photometric, spectroscopic and astrometric data. Both positions are funded for four years, with possible extensions up to the completion of post-mission processing. A start date of 1 April 2006 is envisaged but is flexible. Applications received before 15 February 2006 will receive full consideration. For more information see the complete advertisement.
Standards for document reference codes and work packages
Two recent Livelink documents describe standards recently adopted for the next phase of Gaia: (1) 'Document reference codes for Gaia' (Perryman, GAIA-CG-TN-ESA-MP-011-3), describing the convention to be used for document codes submitted for Livelink after 1 February 2006 (optional before then); (2) 'Work breakdown structures for Gaia DPAC' (O'Mullane et al, GAIA-C1-TN-ESAC-WOM-001-2) describing the work package labelling convention adopted for the Data Processing and Analysis Consortium. The conventions follow standards prescribed by ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardisation).
Variability processing implementation plan
A draft description of the activities and implementation planned for Coordination Unit 7 (CU7 - the Gaia variability processing implementation plan Eyer et al, GAIA-C7-SP-GEN-LE-003-D) has been added to Livelink. It describes the global tasks and data flow that will be undertaken within CU7, and implemented as one of the main Gaia processing centre activities at the Geneva Observatory-ISDC. The same DACC & DPAC folder in Livelink presents the planning for the other CUs as presently defined.
Young Graduate Trainee position for Science Outreach
ESA is offering a one-year training contract to recent graduates to work on aspects of science outreach for the Gaia project. The successful applicant will be based at ESTEC (The Netherlands) and will work with the Project Scientist's team to develop outreach resources for the Gaia Science Community. Further details of the proposed projects can be found here or by contacting the Gaia Help Desk. An overview of the Young Graduate Trainee programme is available online. The application form for this position is available here. The deadline for applications is 15 December 2005.
Engineering position at GEPI/ Observatoire de Paris
The GEPI laboratory at the Observatoire de Paris is offering an engineering position to work on GIBIS (the simulator of the Gaia payload) and the update of GIBIS algorithms following the acceptance of the final mission design, and on the implementation of data analysis algorithms for the determination of stellar radial velocities. The position is initially for one year with a possibility of renewal for a further one or two years. Further information and contact details are available online (in French). The deadline for applications is 2 December 2005.
Progress in the organisation of the Gaia DPAC
The second meeting of the Data Analysis Coordination Committee was held at MPI, Heidelberg, 6-7 October. Under the chairmanship of Francois Mignard, with co-chair Coryn Bailer-Jones, the structure of the Gaia DPAC (Data Processing and Analysis Consortium) was revised slightly, with the resulting coordination units (CUs) with provisional leaders as follows: CU1: System Architecture (William O'Mullane); CU2: Data Simulations (Xavier Luri); CU3: Core Processing (Uli Bastian); CU4: Object Processing (Dimitri Pourbaix); CU5: Photometric Processing (Floor van Leeuwen); CU6: Spectroscopic Processing (David Katz); CU7: Variability Processing (Laurent Eyer); CU8: Astrophysical Parameters (Coryn Bailer-Jones); CU9: Catalogue Access (to be activated nearer to launch). Provisional work breakdown structures are being advanced for all units, representing all steps foreseen for the data analysis.
Access to Livelink and Parameter Data Base via My Portal
The Gaia Parameter Data Base and the Livelink document repository are now accessible only via My Portal. Any individual working on Gaia may request a personal username and password for My Portal from the Gaia Help Desk. For more information about My Portal see Gaia Resources in My Portal.
Phase B2/C/D industrial proposals received
The industrial proposals for Phase B2/C/D of Gaia were received by ESA, according to the schedule foreseen in the Invitation to Tender process (see News Item 2005-07-01). The review process is now commencing.
Presentation to the Astronomy Working Group
ESA's external advisory body in astronomy met in Paris on 22-23 September under the Chairmanship of Dr Catherine Turon (Observatoire de Paris-Meudon), with part of the agenda devoted to the status of Gaia. The project scientist reported on (a) schedule: the industrial proposals for detailed design and development of the spacecraft and payload will be received on 4 October, the prime contractor will be announced in early 2006, with launch in late 2011 (see News Item 2005-07-01); (b) accuracies: the current accuracy requirements placed on the final Gaia satellite design were presented (see News Item 2005-09-21); (c) data processing: the current status of the formation of the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium was outlined and well received by the committee (see News Item 2005-06-27).
Revised accuracy specifications
In place of the 10 microarcsec parallax accuracies at 15 mag targetted at mission acceptance in 2000, ESA's revised parallax accuracy requirements, reflected in the Mission Requirements Document, are now more comprehensive (but slightly degraded at 15 mag): 7 microarcsec at V= 10; 12-25 microarcsec at V= 15; and 100-300 microarcsec at V= 20 (depending on spectral type, from M6V to B1V respectively). These represent all-sky averages for unreddened stars, a 5-year mission, and include a 20% scientific contingency margin. The parallax is the most demanding of the five astrometric parameters, with positional and proper motion component accuracies expected to be a little better. All other scientific objectives are unchanged: a completeness limit of G= 20 mag, around 1 billion objects, comprehensive multi-colour photometry, and radial velocities to 17-17.5 mag.
Final presentation of the Large Deployable Sunshield contract
One of the technical development activities initiated by ESA after the concept and technology study in 2000 was the development of a fully representative deployable sunshield for Gaia. The study was carried out by Sener (Spain), and directed by Gerard Migliorero (ESTEC). The specifications called for a 'bread board' model of two of the 12 folding panels of an 11-m diameter sunshield, partly carrying solar panels, and weighing less than 100kg. After deployment, the sunshield must provide a highly stable mechanical and thermal environment during operation. The study demonstrated that the temperature of the shielded spacecraft can be kept at about 150K, with a stability of a few parts in a thousand over the spin period of 6 hours. The attached movie (gif, wmv) shows laboratory deployment of the resulting breadboard model.
First look progress reported by ARI, Heidelberg
The GIS (Global Iterative Solution) is the basic procedure for the astrometric reduction of the Gaia observations. It will be used to simultaneously determine the astrometric source parameters, the satellite's attitude, the calibration of the instrument, and some global parameters. The ODIS (One-Day Iterative Solution) is a reduced 24-hour version of GIS, being studied by the ARI team led by Ulrich Bastian. Its goal is to provide diagnostics and partially reduced data to rapidly judge the correct functioning of the satellite. In `Results from ODIS Experiments and Consequences for GIS' by Stefan Jordan, Helmut Lenhardt, and Ulrich Bastian (GAIA-ARI-SJ-003, available on Livelink), the Heidelberg team has demonstrated that ODIS is indeed able to evaluate the satellite's functioning on the level of microarcsec, and will already provide a very good instrument calibration and attitude every day.
Barcelona PhD thesis on payload data handling aspects
The thesis submitted by Jordi Portell of the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (Barcelona), and for defense on 26 September, is entitled `Payload data handling, telemetry and data compression systems for Gaia'. Over the last four years, Jordi Portell has worked closely with the Barcelona, Paris, and ESTEC Gaia teams to anticipate, study and evaluate possible designs for the data handling system. Topics covered include specific aspects of the timing and data compression issues, which are being used as inputs to the industrial satellite design.
Appointment of Spacecraft Operations Manager
Claudio Sollazzo has been appointed the Spacecraft Operations Manager for Gaia. He brings a wealth of operational experience to the project, as former Mission Operations Manager for the Huygens Mission, as well as a playing a substantial operational role in Gaia's predecessor project, Hipparcos.
Fourth Variable Star Working Group meeting, Geneva
A meeting of the Gaia working group dedicated to variable stars was held at the Geneva Observatory on 6 July. Reports on the recent large-scale Grid processing tests, period search benchmarking, and classification studies were presented. Discussions were held on the approach being formulated for the overall Gaia data processing, the work breakdown structure and work packages foreseen for the variability aspects, and the major role anticipated in Geneva for the algorithmic integration and execution. Minutes and copies of the presentations are available on the Variable Stars Working Group web site. (See photograph of the participants.)
Industrial ITT Documentation Released
The Gaia Project Team in ESA-ESTEC, supported by the ESA Contracts Department, has released the complete package of documentation representing the industrial `Invitation to Tender' for Phases B2/C/D (detailed design, development, launch and commissioning of the Gaia satellite), including the detailed `Statement of Work' and the `Mission Requirements Document'. This represents the formal start of the final steps of the Gaia satellite development. The selected industrial prime contractor will be announced in February 2006, and the target launch date is late 2011.
Establishment of a Data Analysis Coordination Committee
The first meeting of the Data Analysis Coordination Committee (DACC) was held at ESTEC on 15 and 16 June (see photograph). The DACC was formally set up by the GST at its 15th meeting in April 2005 and is charged with defining and putting into place the Gaia Data Analysis Consortium (GDAC). The GDAC is expected to start operating in mid-2006 and will conceive, implement and operate the Gaia data processing system. The main tasks of the DACC are to design a workable structure for the data processing and to match the community interests (as expressed by the Letters of Intent) to the required tasks. The complete terms of reference of the DACC, its membership, plus the minutes of its first meeting are to be found on Livelink in the folder "DACC and GDAC".
Postdoc positions at ZARM - University of Bremen
Two postdoc research positions, each for a period of two years, are offered by the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen. The positions are related to spacecraft orbit and attitude control for scientific space missions, including Gaia. Details are available online.
Major CCD focal plane study completed
The final presentation of a major 3-year study to develop a fully functional technology demonstrator model of the Gaia CCD focal plane has been held in ESTEC. Objectives were to assess the feasibility of the new Gaia large, high-performance CCDs, assess the ultimate electro-optical performances of the massive focal plane in a multi-CCD configuration, develop the associated thermal and mechanical tools and performances, and develop the associated integrated drive electronics. The contract was initiated by ESA in August 2002 with EADS Astrium (led by Anouk Laborie, Pierre Pouny, Cyril Vetel, and Emmanuel Collados), and involved industrial contributions by e2v technologies, Sira, Leicester and Brunel Universities, DLR, CRISA, PATRIA, CEA France, and Boostec.
ESA awards contract for procurement of Gaia CCDs
The first contract for the implementation phase of Gaia has been awarded to e2v technologies (Chelmsford, UK) who will supply ESA with between 100 and 200 CCDs for the Gaia detectors. The scientific requirements of Gaia demand large, high performance, high specification sensors which will be integrated to form the largest focal plane of CCDs ever built. e2v technologies was represented by the CEO, Keith Attwood, Technical Director, Trevor Cross and other senior members of the management team. The ESA Director of Science, Prof. David Southwood, the Head of the Scientific Projects Department, Jacques Louet, and the Gaia Project Manager, Rudi Schmidt, were also present for the signature of the contract. (Read the e2v press release and NewScientist.com article.)
Final industrial presentations mark completion of Gaia Definition Study
The final presentations of the definition phase (Phase B1) for Gaia were held on 07-08 June at ESTEC. Two industrial teams, Alenia/Alcatel and EADS-Astrium, separately presented the current status of their detailed studies into all aspects of the Gaia satellite. These presentations were attended by Gaia's Project Manager and project team, the Project Scientist, other ESA experts, and representatives of the Gaia Science Team. The results of the definition studies will be used by ESA in the finalisation of the Mission Requirements Document. This forms the technical basis for the industrial Invitation to Tender which will be issued within a few weeks. (See also News Item for 2005-05-18.)
Gaia 'implementation phase' taking shape
Procedures for the 'implementation phase' (phases B2,C,D,E1 - detailed definition, construction, testing and launch) of Gaia are now moving ahead strongly. Final presentations of the two competing industrial studies (marking the end of phase B1) will be held in ESTEC in early June. The 'Invitation to Tender' documentation will be issued by ESA before the end of July. Industrial responses are due by 4 October, and the evaluation of the industrial proposals will take place in October-November. The final meeting of the ESA Tender Evaluation Board is scheduled for 22 December 2005, at which a recommendation on the contract award will be made. After review by the ESA Industrial Policy Committee in February 2006, Phase B2 should commence soon afterwards. Launch of Gaia remains in ESA's planning for 1 December 2011. The proposal submission and evaluation is a major exercise for European industry and ESA - the tender evaluation board and thematic panels involving some 60 ESA experts.
Joint RVS/Photometry/Classification working groups workshop
A joint meeting of the Photometry, Radial Velocity and Classification working groups was held in Barcelona from 27 to 29 April. It was attended by about 60 people from all three working groups. The main topic of discussion was the organization of the data processing, in particular the interfaces between the three groups. There were presentations on the work breakdown structure, data flow and work packages. The working group leaders summarized the top level concept for a Gaia data processing consortium as well as the relevant Letters of Intent. Individuals then presented in more detail their proposals for participation in such a consortium. A number of technical presentations were made covering simulations, instrumentation, the performance of the baseline photometric system, classification and other topics. There were extensive discussions on all topics, in particular on the organization of the data processing, with many useful ideas being exchanged. Presentations from the meeting will soon be available here.
Gaia Symposium proceedings available
The proceedings of the Symposium "The Three-Dimensional Universe with Gaia" have now been posted to all symposium participants. An electronic version of the papers is also available online.
Postdoc position in Heidelberg on Gaia and SDSS/SEGUE
As part of a new research group at the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg, a postdoc position is available to work with Coryn Bailer-Jones on Gaia and SDSS/SEGUE. (SEGUE is the recently approved extension of the SDSS project to the Galactic plane.) The position is concerned with the development and application of astrophysical parameter estimation methods for both Gaia and SEGUE. Further information and contact details are available online.
Response to Data Processing 'Letters of Intent'
Following the deadline for submission of 20 March, LoI proposers have been contacted with a summary of the activities initiated by the Gaia Science Team. An ad hoc Data Analysis Consortium Committee was installed which will lead to the formation of a Gaia Data Processing Consortium over the coming 1-2 years.
177 responses to call for Letters of Intent
At the closing date for the receipt of Letters of Intent to participate in the Gaia data processing (see News Item 2005-01-15) 177 communications from the community had been received. These Letters of Intent will be used, in combination with ongoing discussions within the Gaia Science Team, to identify a possible structure of the Gaia data processing activities. The next milestone in the formation of an overall processing consortium will be the meeting of the Gaia Science Team in ESTEC on 13-14 April, when the next steps will be formulated taking the suggestions contained within the Letters of Intent into account.
Gaia in 2004 - status report now available
Gaia in 2004, a status report prepared by the Gaia Project Scientist, summarises the status of the Gaia project at the end of 2004, describes the progress achieved in 2004 with emphasis on the scientific activities, and summarises the major ongoing and planned activities. Gaia in 2004 is now available here (pdf format).
Photometric data processing
A meeting was held at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge on 7 and 8 February to start the coordination of the photometric data processing and related shell tasks such as variability, science alerts and automatic classification. The meeting was attended by 30 representatives from various European institutes. The first day was assigned to presentations on the tasks ahead, the data volumes involved, and the way various tasks are linked. It also covered related aspects like data simulations, Virtual Observatory, and First Look. The second day was assigned to the organisation of the data processing, both in general terms and as seen from the perspectives of the European countries and institutes. The meeting was concluded with an hour-long discussion on the large-scale structure and organisation of data processing activities. The minutes and presentations from this meeting are available here.
Call for 'Letters of Intent' issued for Gaia data processing
ESA has issued a call for Letters of Intent to participate in the the data processing segment of the Gaia mission. Individuals or institutes in ESA Member States wishing to play a role in Gaia data processing from 2006 onwards should submit a Letter of Intent outlining their possible future involvement. Further details and the submission form are available online.
PWG recommendations for Gaia filter systems
Following extensive studies the Photometry Working Group has recommended baseline filter systems for Gaia's Broad-Band and Medium-Band Photometry systems. The C1B system (5 filters, two of which share a CCD strip) has been adopted for BBP; the C1M system (8 blue bands, 6 red bands) has been adopted for MBP. Further details are available from the Photometry Working Group web site under PS optimization.
Data Processing tests 1-3 completed
The first meeting of the recently-formed Steering Committee of the ongoing Gaia Data Access and Analysis Study (GDAAS) has concluded that the first major phase of testing has been completed successfully. Large-scale mission simulations and data analysis runs have been executed over the last three years, under the responsibility of software engineers at GMV Madrid led by Pedro Perez, astronomers at the University of Barcelona led by Jordi Torra, and using the CESCA (Supercomputing Centre of Catalonia) facilities. A mission duration of 18 months, and simulated data for 200,000 stars distributed over the sky, has been used. Results demonstrate that the `global iterative solution', at the heart of the Gaia data processing challenge, can be implemented as anticipated. The various steps of object matching; source, attitude and calibration updating; and relativistic geometry solution are all included. The system is now being upgraded to a larger-scale run using a more detailed instrument model, and more realistic numerical algorithms. Results for this next phase, GDAAS-2, are expected by June 2005. Naturally, many complications and challenges still lie ahead.
Focal Plane EODM review successful
A successful Test Readiness Review for the Electro-Optical Demonstrator Model (EODM) was held at EADS Astrium (Toulouse) in early December, paving the way for a series of tests to be carried out over the next few months. The EODM, containing 4 back-illuminated Gaia prototype CCDs, is designed to be electronically representative of a portion of the Gaia Astrometric focal plane. The planned testing will demonstrate the feasibility of driving a number of CCDs synchronously in the various Gaia astrometric TDI modes (ASM, AF normal, AF bright star). A custom test facility has been developed by EADS Astrium in order to operate the EODM at 165K in a vacuum chamber whilst providing a moving optical source. The optics are configured to provide a pattern of `stars', each having a Point Spread Function similar to that of the Gaia astrometric telescope. In addition to characterizing key parameters such as electronic noise and centroiding accuracy, CCD features such as TDI length selection and anti-blooming will be evaluated in the most flight representative configuration to-date.
Engineering positions at GEPI/Observatoire de Paris
Two engineering positions have been created at GEPI/Observatoire de Paris for one year with a possibility of renewal for one or two years. The first position deals with the simulation of the spectrograph of the Gaia satellite and the implementation of data analysis algorithms. The second position concerns the data handling on-board the satellite. Further details (in French) are available on the GEPI/Observatoire de Paris Gaia web pages. Closing date for applications is 14 January 2005.
GaiaGrid coordinates binary star simulations
A GASS simulation of Gaia telemetry, corresponding to five years of observations of 1000 astrometric binary stars, has been successfully completed using the GaiaGrid environment. 183 independent jobs were distributed through 23 computing nodes distributed in 8 institutes located in 5 countries. A total of 3.8 million CPU seconds were used for the tasks. 16.5 Gb of data were produced and have been used to populate the GDAAS database in order to test the Astrometric Binary Star Analysis shell algorithm. See Simulation of binary stars: a testbed for Grid computing for further details.
Gaia postdoctoral position at Leiden Observatory
Leiden Observatory invites applications for a postdoctoral research position to work on the preparation of the photometric data analysis for ESA's Gaia mission. The study of the photometric data analysis will lead to the design and development of algorithms that will be used during the operational phase of the Gaia mission. The successful applicant will work with Dr. Anthony Brown and is expected to continue to collaborate in original research in related areas part-time. Further details are available on the Leiden Observatory web pages.
Greek government award to ATHENOGAIA
A Greek programme, ATHENOGAIA, which will support the participation of a Greek team in various Gaia working groups has been awarded a grant of 250,000 Euro from the Greek General Secretariat of Research and Technology. This followed an open call for proposals aimed at encouraging Greek participation in European and International Programmes. The members of the team are D. Sinachopoulos (Double & Multiple Star Working Group), R. Korakitis (Photometry Working Group), M. Kontizas and E. Kontizas (Classification Working Group). The programme will be hosted by the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Gaia postdoctoral position at IoA, Cambridge
In the United Kingdom two posts have been created, for a period of three years, to start developing the data processing pipeline software for the photometric and radial velocity data from Gaia. The posts are financed through an eScience grant from PPARC, and are distributed over Cambridge (1.5) and Leicester (0.5). One post, at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, is currently advertised. This small group, including Floor van Leeuwen as coordinator and manager, is intended to become the core of a much larger UK effort to provide actual data processing software for some of the core tasks of the Gaia satellite.
Symposium closes on a positive note
The Gaia Symposium closed with the Concluding Remarks: Gaia and astrophysics in 2015-20 delivered by Tim de Zeeuw (Leiden Observatory). Reviewing the scientific missions planned for the forthcoming decade and considering the major questions to be addressed by these projects de Zeeuw concluded that the science case for Gaia remains very broad and strong as long as the scientific specifications for the mission are maintained. De Zeeuw also noted that tremendous progress had been made in the past four years, much of this effort being funded locally. A short report on the Symposium is also available online.
Gaia Symposium opens at Observatoire de Paris
"The Three Dimensional Universe with Gaia", a symposium dedicated to ESA's Gaia mission, opens today at the Observatoire de Paris, Section de Meudon. The Opening Address is given by Jean Kovalevsky. Programme details can be found on the symposium web site.
First industrial presentations of Gaia Definition Study
The mid-term presentations of the definition phase for Gaia were held on 14-15 September at ESTEC (see News Item 2004-03-03). Two industrial teams, Alenia/Alcatel and EADS-Astrium, separately presented the current status of their detailed studies into all aspects of the Gaia satellite. These presentations were attended by Gaia's newly appointed Project Manager (Rudi Schmidt), the Gaia Project Scientist, other ESA representatives, and members of the Gaia Science Team. These definition studies will run until mid-2005.
The billion-pixel camera
[From the ESA Space Science web site]
"ESA's 'discovery machine' Gaia is designed to photograph one thousand million stars and hundreds of thousands of other celestial objects, so its camera will have to be something truly special." Read the article.
NWO grant awarded for Gaia photometric analysis study
Recognising the challenge posed by the Gaia data analysis, the Netherlands organisation for scientific research (NWO) has awarded a grant of 364,000 Euro in support of preparations for Gaia photometric data analysis. The award will fund a study, led by Anthony Brown (Leiden University), to advance the plans for the analysis of the photometric data from the Gaia satellite. In addition, and in collaboration with DutchSpace (a company with experience in the application of grid technology to large-scale problems), the study will explore how grid technology can be applied to a realistic, large and complex astronomical investigation, such as that posed by the photometric analysis.
Final programme for Gaia Symposium online
The programme of presentations for the Gaia Symposium, to be held at the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon from 4-7 October, has been finalised. The programme is now available online on the Symposium website.
FPA and CCD demonstrators - critical design review successful
Under contract to ESA, EADS Astrium (Toulouse) are designing, building and testing two engineering models of the Gaia Astrometric focal plane. The Thermal Mechanical Demonstrator Model (TMDM) is a mock-up of the focal plane structure which will be used for integration and alignment verification, and thermal vacuum testing. The Electro-Optical Demonstrator Model (EODM) is designed to be electronically representative of the flight focal plane. It contains 4 fully-functional CCDs and will be used to assess their performance under nominal operating conditions in the various Gaia TDI modes and for a variety of simulated star magnitudes. The Critical Design Review (CDR) marks the end of the design phase for both of these demonstrator units. Astrium now have formal approval of their designs from ESA and will proceed to integrate the focal plane demonstrators.
ICAP-VS-SA meeting presentations
The classification, variable star, and science alerts working groups held a joint meeting in Cambridge on 15-16 April 2004. The presentations given at the meeting are available on the Meetings page of the Variable Star Working Group www site and show the current activities, the inter-relationship of the groups, and future plans. Decisions on the algorithms to be implemented in the GDAAS2 data analysis prototype will be made soon.
Gaia photometric filters enter final design phase
The Photometry Working Group has circulated three documents of relevance to the choice of the photometric system design for Gaia, which will be finalised over the next few months: (a) procedures for the photometric system recommendation (Anthony Brown et al, 11 May, PWG-AB-003); (b) scientific targets for the photometric system design (Carme Jordi et al, 14 May, UB-PWG-009); (c) quantification of the target priorities (Carme Jordi et al, 14 May, UB-PWG-015). With the selection of the photometric filters for Gaia now entering the final design phase, all interested parties are invited to provide their comments to the document authors in the coming weeks, to assist convergence of this important activity. Documents are available on Livelink, or from the authors.
Gaia M1 demonstrator successfully sintered
The demonstrator model for the Gaia primary mirror (M1) has been successfully sintered at Boostec facilities, France. The Gaia Large Size SiC Mirror study, led by EADS Astrium, aims to demonstrate the feasibility of the current M1 design by building and testing a replica of the mirror. The study is expected to be completed by mid-2005. (See Picture of the Week, 2004-05-17)
Final presentation of the RVS instrument study
The first phase of the RVS instrument design has come to an end with the final presentation of the work performed to date by the RVS Consortium. This scientific consortium comprising Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, Brunel University, University of Leicester, Osservatorio di Asiago, and University of Ljubljana, and led by Professor Mark Cropper (MSSL), worked with ESA and the industrial System Level Technical Assistance contractors under the direction of ESA Study Manager Oscar Pace. The consortium has refined all aspects of the instrument design (optics, detector, mechanical, thermal, and on-board processing) providing a baseline design for Gaia's radial velocity spectrograph. This will be refined further during the Definition Study phase, extending to mid-2005.
Gaia proceeds to Phase B1
On 2-3 March, separate presentations were made by Alcatel/Alenia and EADS-Astrium to ESA representatives (from the Gaia project and outside) and the Gaia Science Team. Extensive presentations summarised the activities which have been carried out under the parallel System Level Technical Assistance Contracts which have been running with these industrial teams for the past two years. As a result, authorisation has been given for Gaia to enter Phase B1, the detailed definition phase, which is expected to start in April 2004, and which will extend for 1 year. Gaia therefore continues to remain on schedule for a launch in 2010.
Gaia in 2003 - status report now available
Gaia in 2003, a status report prepared by the Gaia Project Scientist, summarises the status of the Gaia project at the end of 2003, describes the progress achieved in 2003, and summarises the major ongoing and planned activities. Gaia in 2003 is now available here (pdf format).
"High Stability Optical Bench" study completed
The final presentation of the Gaia technology "High Stability Optical Bench" contract took place in ESTEC on 3 February. This successfully concluded a two-year study of the basic angle monitoring device (see Picture of the Week, 2003-11-10). The contract has proved the principles and processes using a laboratory prototype of a device which should ultimately have a 1 microarcsec monitoring capability in orbit. The prototype demonstrated the mounting, alignment, and thermal/vibrational stability of the prototype system manufactured from silicon carbide. The contract was undertaken by EADS-Astrium Toulouse, supported by TNO-TPD Delft for the laboratory set-up, and Boostec for the silicon carbide structure and mirrors (see Picture of the Week, 2003-07-07).
"Ground Verification" study completed
The final presentation of the Gaia technology "Ground Verification" contract took place in ESTEC on 3 February. Along with the final report to be issued shortly, this successfully and satisfactorily brings to an end a one-year industrial study by EADS-Astrium. It studied the objectives and requirements of the ground verification activities which need to be undertaken before launch, including measurement of the optical behaviour at the operational temperature. This is an essential exercise in concluding whether the stringent payload goals can be guaranteed in orbit, and identifying the associated costs and facilities needed. Central to the plans are the projected use of the Focal thermal vacuum facility in Liege, Belgium.
Gaia "stages" at l'Observatoire de Paris Meudon
Three stage positions (temporary training positions) are on offer at l'Observatoire de Paris Meudon. They cover (1) data-reduction of photocentric binary stars, (2) cosmic ray rejection and galaxy detection, and (3) treatment of resolved multiples stars. For further information see the original French text, or the English translation.
Gaia at the Model United Nations
An audience of about 800 young adults took time out from debating the hot issues of the day at The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) to enjoy a presentation by Gaia Project Scientist Michael Perryman on "Our Galaxy in 3D". The presentation, to delegates at the Special Conference on The Information Society and The Environment, featured three- dimensional images and movies of the sky generated using Hipparcos data. A lively question and answer session followed the fifty minute talk. See also the news item on the ESA Education website.
"Science First Look" study starts at Heidelberg
A small team at Astronomische Rechen-Institut (ARI), Heidelberg, is starting work on a 12-month study investigating the feasibility of using basic science data obtained by the instruments on Gaia as a high-precision indicator of the health of the satellite. This "Science First Look" could provide the possibility of quickly identifying sub-optimal performance in the satellite and of the early correction of mission- critical problems.
More information about the study can be found on the "Gaia at ARI" website.
Membership of Working Groups updated
The list of members of the Gaia Working Groups has been updated to include new members and updates to members' details according to information provided during the past year. The updated lists can be consulted online (see the documents linked from the end of the Gaia Working Groups page.)
Testing the high stability optics prototype
A prototype 'basic angle monitoring system' designed and constructed in a collaboration between EADS Astrium (Toulouse) and TNO TPD (Delft) will be subjected to a series of tests over the coming weeks. The tests are designed to verify that the system can be aligned with the required accuracy, that it can withstand the launch loads without damage or misalignment, and that it provides the thermal stability required for the in-orbit monitoring. For more on the tests see Picture of the week featuring the high stability optics prototype.
ESA's SPC endorses SSAC recommendations
The Science Programme Committee yesterday endorsed the reconstruction of ESA's science programme as recommended by the Space Science Advisory Committee in October. The reconstructed programme maintains the Gaia mission according to the current development schedule, i.e. with a launch date not later than 2012. (See also ESA Press Release: Critical decisions on Cosmic Vision.)
NASA announces new SMEX candidates
NASA has announced a shortlist of five missions to go forward for the next selection phase for Small Explorer (SMEX) missions. The astrometry mission AMEX, which merged the US FAME and German DIVA initiatives, was not included in this shortlist. ESA's Gaia (a global astrometry mission planned for launch in 2010) and NASA's SIM (a pointed astrometry mission scheduled to launch in 2009) are now the only space astrometry missions planned for the foreseeable future. (For more details on the SMEX selections see the NASA Press Release.)
Gaia's GDAAS presented at the ADASS conference
Xavier Luri, Universitat de Barcelona & Gaia Science Team, discussed the challenges of the data processing and analysis tasks to be faced by Gaia at the 2003 Astronomical Data Analysis Software & Systems XIII conference. Recent results from the Gaia Data Access and Analysis System Study which is currently underway were presented. Among the highlights of this were the successful processing for a 6-month Global Iterative Solution for (simulated) Gaia observations.
Presentations to the ESA advisory committees
The ESA advisory committees met in ESTEC (6-7 October) to review the status of ESA's planned scientific missions. The status of Gaia, as well as other future missions, was presented to a joint meeting of the Astronomy Working Group, Solar System Working Group, Fundamental Physics Advisory Group, and Space Science Advisory Committee.
First e2v CCDs for Gaia
The first batch of CCD wafers for Gaia's Astro (AF) instrument has recently been completed at the UK headquarters of e2v technologies in Chelmsford. The CCD91-72s represent one of the largest area CCDs produced by e2v. They are nearly 50% bigger than e2v's successful astronomy products used worldwide in ground-based telescopes. The Gaia device is designed to work in TDI (Time Delay and Integrate) mode. This allows an integrated image to be built up by the continuously scanning satellite, an essential concept at the heart of Gaia's mission to map with unprecedented accuracy the space position and motions of over a billion stars.
[See the Picture of the week featuring e2v CCDs.]
Results from Gaia's planet detection tests
Members of the Planetary Systems Working Group have reported the first results of their tests of Gaia's exoplanet detection capabilities, using simulated data matching the results expected from the real mission. In a detailed `double blind test', data simulated by Torino Observatory astronomers Mario Lattanzi and colleagues was processed independently by Alessandro Sozzetti (Pittsburgh/CfA), and Dimitri Pourbaix and Sylvie Jancart (Bruxelles). The detection and orbit fitting solutions are in line with the formal predictions, and underline Gaia's capability of detecting many thousands of exoplanets from their astrometric wobble.
[See the report on the Planetary Systems Working Group web site]
Scientific teams deliver new algorithms to GDAAS
Twelve new analysis algorithms, better reflecting the actual complexity of the Gaia processing system, were delivered to GDAAS in July for integration into the next major upgrade of the analysis prototype. Led by GMV (Madrid) and supported by the University of Barcelona, the Gaia Data Access and Analysis Study (GDAAS) is laying the foundations of a possible data analysis system for the Gaia mission. These new algorithms will allow better estimates of the true processing requirements for Gaia following launch in 2010.
e2v sensors form the largest focal plane CCD mosaic in the world
Custom-built CCDs, designed and manufactured by Essex-based e2v technologies, have recently captured their first images through Megacam, the wide field camera mounted on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). The forty (40) e2v CCD42-90s represent the largest set of CCDs ever provided for any telescope in the world. e2v is working with the European Space Agency to develop and supply several hundreds of large format CCDs for Gaia.
[Read the e2v press release]
Invitation to Tender issued for inch-worm mechanism
The European Space Agency today issued an Invitation to Tender for an inch-worm mechanism. The activity proposed covers the specification and design refinement of the actuator and demonstrator development and test of the mechanism. Inch-worm mechanisms are attractive candidates for the Gaia quasi-static correction mechanism.
Further details of the ITT (AO4375) are available on EMITS
ESA issues Invitation to Tender for mN FEEP full qualification
The Gaia reaction control design assumes, among other things a continuous thrust of mN FEEPs to control the satellite scanning law and attitude for a mission lifetime of 5 years, extendible to 6. No mN FEEPs have been qualified and characterised for up to 6 years.This ITT is to assess criticality of mN range FEEP based RCS requirements and constraints for Gaia, to build a demonstration model and to carry out a qualification and characterisation programme of the model according to Gaia needs.
Further details of the ITT (AO4134) are available on EMITS.
When more data can mean more fun
[From ESA Science]
Tomorrow's spacecraft will be capable of generating more data than they can transmit to Earth. In some cases, this could be more data than can even be comfortably handled by today's computational methods. What benefits are there for us in this flood of data? [Read the article]
ESA to look for the missing link in gravity
[From ESA Science]
Although you can never be certain of predicting future developments in science, there is a good chance of a fundamental breakthrough in physics soon. With a series of unique experiments and missions designed to test our understanding of gravity, the European Space Agency (ESA) hopes to get to the very bottom of it. Scientists will study space phenomena that do not seem to conform to our perceived understanding of gravity. In this way, they hope to develop a greater comprehension of the Universe. [Read the article]
ESA paves the way for an avalanche of new extrasolar planet discoveries
[From ESA Science]
An interview with Didier Queloz, one of the world's most successful planet hunters. [Read the article]
Gaia Data Analysis Feasibility Study Completed
A major two-year study into the feasibility of the data processing for Gaia has been successfully completed, and the final presentation made today at ESTEC. A team, led by software industrial group GMV (Madrid),and supported by teams from the University of Barcelona and the Supercomputing Centre of Catalunya, has been responsible for the study. It provides a foundation for the further development of the Gaia data processing.
'Cosmic Vision 2020': the new ESA Science Programme
[ESA Press Release No.36-2002]
Following the outcome of Council of Ministers in Edinburgh in November 2001, the Director of Science undertook a complete reassessment of the ESA Science Programme. This was done in close collaboration with the science community, represented by the Space Science Advisory Committee, industry and Member States delegations. The results of this exercise were presented as a proposal to the 99th meeting of the Science Programme Committee of the European Space Agency held in Andenes (Norway) on 22-23 May. Whilst noting the withdrawal by the Executive, during the meeting itself, of the Venus Express mission, the Science Programme Committee strongly endorsed the plan proposed by the Executive and encouraged it to proceed vigorously with its implementation. [Read the article]
Gaia Confirmed by ESA's Science Programme Committee
The detailed review of the ESA science programme (see 5 December 2001) has been completed, with confirmation of Gaia within ESA's long-term science programme 'Cosmic Vision 2020', and with a launch date not later than 2012. For planning and technology development purposes, a launch date of mid-2010 has been adopted by ESA
Completion of Re-Assessment Study
A revised design of Gaia has been finalised. ESA, industry (Astrium-F), and the Gaia science team, have successfully established a more compact design which can fit into a Soyuz launch vehicle, with corresponding cost savings, whilst fully preserving the scientific goals originally set out for the mission.
European Space Agency to probe asteroid blind spot
[From ESA Science]
In the past five weeks two asteroids have passed close by Earth, at distances of 1.2 and 3 times the distance to the Moon. Another asteroid has recently been shown to have a 1 in 300 chance of colliding with Earth in 2880. Monitoring known asteroids allows astronomers to predict which may collide with Earth. But that is only true for the asteroids we know of. What about those that lie in the asteroid blind spot between the Sun and Earth? The European Space Agency is studying ways in which its missions can assist in monitoring these unseen but potentially hazardous asteroids. [Read the article]
Gaia Technical Activities remain on hold
The Industrial Policy Committee has confirmed that the industrial system study foreseen for Gaia may not start (see details under 21 May 2001). The technical development of Gaia therefore remains on hold.
Science Programme Committee will Review ESA Science Programme
In view of the future funding of the ESA science programme resulting from the Ministerial meeting in November, the SPC will undertake a complete review of the programme, using the ESA scientific advisory structure. A mid-term review will be held in February 2002, with a revised programme to be approved in June 2002. The future of Gaia, approved as Cornerstone 6 in October 2000, is accordingly uncertain.
First Meeting of the Gaia Science Team
The Gaia Science Team, established after mission selection, met for the first time in ESTEC.
Scientific Organisation Meeting in ESTEC
A meeting of about 100 European scientists interested in participating in the preparations for the Gaia mission met at ESTEC, Noordwijk, NL, to discuss the organisation and planning of the scientific aspects of the mission.
European experts gather to prepare for Gaia
[From ESA Science]
About 100 European scientists are gathering in ESTEC over the next two days to consider plans for the scientific organisation of Gaia - ESA's ambitious mission to help unravel the origin and evolution of our Galaxy. Experts in general relativity, extra-solar planets, and a whole host of other relevant disciplines are coming together to pool their knowledge about how Gaia can best be organised. [Read the article]
ESA scientist gives Goddard's 36th annual John C. Lindsay Memorial Lecture
[From ESA Science]
The 36th annual "John C. Lindsay Memorial Lecture" was delivered by ESA scientist Michael Perryman at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA. The lecture, on the "Three Dimensional Structure of our Galaxy", was based on the results from ESA's Hipparcos mission. [Read the article]
Gaia Technical Activities Put On Hold
The Industrial Policy Committee (IPC) has not authorised the start of the industrial system study foreseen for Gaia. The technical development of Gaia is on-hold until further notice.
Gaia - a gift to the next generation of astronomers
[From ESA Science]
Dozens of young scientists from all over Europe have gathered this week at Les Houches in Savoie, France, for intensive briefings on ESA's next star-mapping satellite, Gaia. As the successor to the very successful Hipparcos space astrometry project, Gaia was approved last year as an ESA Cornerstone mission to be launched around 2012. Engaging the interest and participation of the next generation of astronomers will be vital for the project's success. [Read the article]
13/05/2001 to 18/05/2001
Les Houches Summer School on Gaia
About 80 scientists, including young researchers new to the field of space astrometry, attended a Summer School at Les Houches, France. Senior European scientists presented lectures on many aspects of the Gaia mission and its expected scientific results. The objective of the School was to interest a new generation of astronomers in the mission. Proceedings (eds Olivier Bienayme & Catherine Turon) will be available early in 2002.
Cornerstone 6 Selection
The ESA Director of Science, Professor Roger Bonnet, today announced that the Gaia mission has been selected to be Cornerstone 6 of the ESA Science Programme. Further details are available on the ESA Science Page.
Report of the British "Near Earth Objects Task Force" published.
Among the recommendations put forward by the Task Force is that the British government " draw the attention of the European Space Agency to the particular role that Gaia, one of its future missions, could play in surveying the sky for Near Earth Objects. The Executive Summary of the report is available online.
The Space Science Advisory Committee of ESA recommends to the Science Programme Committee that Gaia be selected as Cornerstone 6.
More information is available on the ESA Science Web Site.