Annotated diagram of the Gaia payload module. Click for more information.

Commissioning update

The Gaia project team provides an update on the ongoing commissioning activities of ESA’s billion star surveyor… The work done to bring online all components of the Gaia service module, which houses equipment needed for the basic...

Detecting sources with Gaia's Sky Mapper.
Credit: ESA

Detecting sources

As part of the ongoing commissioning activities of Gaia, the satellite’s Sky Mapper has briefly been used in a special mode to image a patch of the sky close to the Galactic plane (below). The job of...

Gaia tilt seen from Earth

Gaia tilt watched from Earth

As part of the tests to try and diagnose the stray light issue noticed in the first month of instrument commissioning, the Gaia operations team is making a series of spacecraft orientation changes. The spacecraft was first...

Gaia payload module integration

One month at L2

Gaia has been in its operational orbit around L2 for about a month now, where it is undergoing a very rigorous test programme before starting on its main science observations. Like many relocations, it can take some...

The Milky Way Shines on Paranal
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High-speed Gaia

From cleanroom to liftoff, watch an incredible time-lapse movie of Gaia's final preparations on Earth before shooting for the stars.      

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Journey to a billion suns

A new planetarium show, Journey to a billion Suns, premieres today in Hamburg, Germany, to tell the fascinating story of mapping the Milky Way, from ancient times to ESA’s recently launched Gaia mission. Watch the trailer: Read...

Gaia_liftoff

… and we got there!

ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is now in its operational orbit around a gravitationally stable virtual point in space called ‘L2’, 1.5 million km from Earth. Via ESA web

Orbits of satellites like Gaia or the James Webb Space Telescope at the L2 Lagrange point. Credit: ESA
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The flight dynamics expertise behind Gaia’s criti...

Today is a big day for the flight dynamics experts who determine and predict trajectories, prepare orbit manoeuvres and determine satellite attitudes. At around 19:58 CET this evening, five of Gaia's eight thrusters will be commanded to...

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#FirstVideo: Gaia seen in space

Last night, Nick James, based in the UK, captured some fantastic views of Gaia as it departed Earth en route to L2, about 1.5 million km away from Earth opposite the Sun. The video acquired at about 01:00 GMT this morning. (Editor's note: Several other very good images have just been shared and we'll get them posted as soon as possible.) Well done, Nick! And thanks for sharing! Nick wrote: Time lapse movie of the Gaia spacecraft taken using a C11 telescope and an ST9XE CCD camera. Each frame is a 5-second exposure and the animation is played at 25 fps. At the time the images were taken, Gaia was around 158...

Gaia liftoff – watch replay highlights

Watch the replay highlights of today's webcast of ESA's billion-star surveyor Gaia launching into space. Lift off took place at 09:12 GMT / 10:12 CET this morning. This video includes highlights of the launch webcast including lift-off from Kourou, the Soyuz mission, separation of Gaia and the successful entry into orbit. Like to see the entire webcast replay? Access the full video in the ESA website.

Image showing the signal level at ESA's Perth tracking station, now in contact with Gaia. Credit: ESA

AOS: Acquisition of signal at ESOC confirmed

What the Gaia mission operations team at ESOC have waited to see! The bottom image shows the tracking station signal being received from ESA's 15m Perth station, Australia; loud and clear. ESA is now in contact with...