Author Archives: mareike

video

Gaia sunshield deployment time lapse sequence

Here are some nice time-lapse sequences from the deployment test of the Gaia Deployable Sunshield Assembly (DSA) on 10 October 2013, in the cleanroom at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou.     Since the DSA will operate in microgravity, it is not designed to support its own weight in the one-g environment at Earth’s surface. Therefore, during deployment testing on the ground, the DSA panels are attached to a system of support cables and counterweights that bears their weight, preventing damage and providing a realistic test environment. Once in space, the sunshield has two purposes: to shade Gaia’s sensitive telescopes and cameras, and to provide power to operate the spacecraft. Gaia will always...

The next steps: A timeline of the final launch preparat...

The Gaia spacecraft is now safely packed into its container at the Astrium premises in Toulouse where it was built, awaiting its departure end of this week for the launch site. The next time, we’ll see the satellite will be at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Exciting! Giuseppe will report on the happenings and send pictures from the arrival directly from Kourou next week. In the meantime, let’s have a look at the next steps. In total, some 70 people from ESA and Astrium will be in Kourou, working in two shifts, Monday to Saturday, to get everything ready for launch. Until the launch window opens on 17 November, there are plenty...

Ready for launch!

With the final tests and the Mission Flight Acceptance Review successfully concluded, Gaia is now ready for launch and has been assigned a launch window from 17 November to 5 December 2013. Meanwhile Gaia has been ‘switched off’ and packed, and will be shipped to Kourou in the second half of August in order to prepare for its launch. Ready to go at last! The Gaia spacecraft is seen here at the Astrium premises, being packed in its high-tech case in preparation for shipping to Kourou. The shipment of Gaia will take place in two steps: The spacecraft will leave Toulouse on 22 August at 20:00, landing in the early morning of...

Gaia’s European adventure

In this first entry of the Gaia blog, we catch up with the spacecraft before it departs Europe to Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. The Gaia Flight Model (FM) spacecraft has now completed all the necessary test campaigns and is ready for shipment to the launch site. Acoustic Test Gaia was placed in the acoustic test chamber at the premises of Intespace in Toulouse, France, and subjected to a simulation of the acoustic environment it will experience during launch. The extreme acoustic levels during launch are due mainly to the noise of the launcher’s engines, with a smaller contribution from the airflow over the fairing during the climb through Earth’s atmosphere at...

Gaia – Surveying a billion stars

Welcome to ESA’s Gaia blog! Gaia is a global space astrometry mission. It will make the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy by surveying more than a thousand million stars. In this blog we’ll cover the activities from Kourou from once the spacecraft has left the clean room in Toulouse until launch. And we’ll include guest blogs from outside of Kourou – to give you an idea of the other things that are happening in the wider Gaia community. Details shortly…Watch this space!