Tag Archives: Gaia

‘Go’ for science

Following the extensive in-orbit commissioning review and after encountering the unexpected challenges highlighted previously on the blog, Gaia is now ready to begin its science mission. Read the announcement published today on the ESA Portal: Gaia: ‘Go’...

Asteroids at the “photo finish”

Today’s Gaia blog post is contributed by Paolo Tanga, Associate Astronomer at the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, Nice (France). We tend to think that a still picture, shot with an ordinary camera, represents a subject at...

Commissioning the Radial Velocity Spectrometer

Guest blog post by George Seabroke, RVS Payload Expert, on behalf of the team commissioning the RVS instrument. The Radial Velocity Spectrometer (RVS) is one of three instruments onboard Gaia (see Figure 1). It is designed to...

Gaia takes science measurements

As part of the on-going commissioning tests, we are happy to be able to report on the first spectroscopy observations made by Gaia. You will have seen the ‘first light’ images from the early phases of commissioning...

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...

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.

Installation on the launch adapter

Following the filling of the tanks, the Gaia satellite enters the Combined Operations Phase: the “COP”. This involves all the different stages by which the satellite is put on to the launcher, the launcher is put on the launch pad, and the launch itself. All of the activities on the satellite are carried out at this time according to a schedule established by Arianespace, who also manage all of the active participants of this combined phase: Astrium as the prime contractors of the satellite, Roscosmos for the Russian launcher, RUAG for the payload adapter and the clamp band, Arianespace or its subcontractors for the electrical testing of the launcher, and CNES for...

A secretary in the jungle

If you are anticipating a technical blog – stop reading this now, as I am surely the least technical person in the Gaia Project Team. Let me introduce myself, I am Helma, the Gaia project secretary. I’ve been on the project since day one, which is about ten years ago, so I sometimes joke about Gaia being my first baby (I’ve had two actual babies in the meantime). When people ask me why I have to go French Guiana for months I tell them ‘to support our Launch Campaign’. Then I get ‘Yes but what do you actually do?’ Besides the normal work like documentation, handling timesheets, leave requests, and a million...

Gaia ready for fuelling

Towards the end of November, the first part of the Gaia launch preparation was complete: the satellite was 90% ready, with its tanks pressurised. The second part begins with filling the tanks with the appropriate propellants. This phase is particularly dangerous because the propellants are toxic, and there is also a risk of explosion, so it is carried out in a dedicated building. That’s why Gaia had to move from building S1B in the payload preparation complex (EPCU), where it has been since the start of the campaign, to the S5 building to be fuelled. How do you move Gaia from one building to another? Gaia, complete with its sunshield, could not...