We fly ESA’s Gaia mission to map 1 billion stars – Ask us anything

16:00 CET today

Gaia’s primary objective is to survey one billion stars in our Galaxy and local galactic neighbourhood in order to build the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way and answer questions about its origin and evolution. Gaia is expected to find thousands of planets beyond our Solar System and map hundreds of thousands of asteroids and comets within it. The mission will also reveal tens of thousands of failed stars and supernovae, and will even test Einstein’s famous theory of General Relativity.

The Gaia flight control team work at ESA’s ESOC mission control centre, in Darmstadt, Germany. This includes planning all flight activities, monitoring the health and status of the spacecraft, coordinating with the science operations centre at ESA’s ESAC Establishment in Spain, scheduling ground station passes, downloading an immense amount of science data each day and generally making sure the satellite performs as expected.

The Gaia spacecraft is unique, with unprecedented dynamic and thermal performance. In ensuring the ambitious goals of this mission are met, the team have dealt with some interesting challenges.

We’ll be live here starting at 16:00 CET – 10:00 EST – 15:00 GMT

Providing replies for the Gaia AMA are:


David Milligan – Spacecraft Operations Manager (Flight control team leader) [DM]

Flight control team

  • Ed Serpell – Operations engineer (Payload) [ES]
  • Jonas Marie – Operations engineer (Attitude & orbit control system) [JM]
  • Ran Qedar – Operations engineer (Power & thermal) [RQ]
  • Peter Collins – Operations engineer (Data management system, Onboard software maintenance, Ground systems) [PC]
  • Jan Kolmas – Young Graduate Trainee (Star tracker) [JK]
  • Gary Whitehead – Operations engineer (Telemetry & telecommanding, Mission planning) [GW]

Flight dynamics

  • Ander Martinez De Albeniz (Flight dynamics) [AMA]


  • Jose Hernandez – Science Operations Calibration Engineer [JH]

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