Hey Space Placers!
The European Space Agency's (ESA) Gaia mission lifted off successfully today, 12/19/13.
The 5 year mission is designed to observe 1 billion stars of our own Milky Way Galaxy.
Gaia will observe each of these stars an average of 70 times and determine their positions, distances, temperatures and chemical composition. With all of this information Gaia will produce over a Petabyte - 1 million Gigabytes or 200,000 DVD's - of data that will need to be analyzed.
When this analysis is done, it will give us a very detailed map of of our home in the Cosmos, our Milky Way Galaxy. Gaia will also discover thousands of supernovas - massive stars that explode when they die - and asteroids.
This is a very interesting mission indeed. I look forward to seeing the results.
Sky Guy in VA