Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mapping The Galaxy, And Watching Our Backyard

Date:
July 6, 2004
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
One of ESA’s most ambitious current projects has the aim of compiling the most precise map of one thousand million stars in our Galaxy. Gaia, a spacecraft which will carry two of the most sensitive cameras ever made, is due to be launched in 2010.

Gaia spacecraft.
Credit: Medialab

One of ESA’s most ambitious current projects has the aim of compiling the most precise map of one thousand million stars in our Galaxy.

Gaia, a spacecraft which will carry two of the most sensitive cameras ever made, is due to be launched in 2010.

It will take five years to detect such a vast quantity of objects, some of which are incredibly faint, and another three years to plot them all in a giant three-dimensional computerised model that shows not only their current position, but their direction of motion, colour and even their composition.

In short, Gaia will produce a completely new view of the Galaxy and everything in it. It will produce the ultimate map, a star catalogue that could be used by every other space mission of the future.

Another exciting aspect of this amazing mission is that it could find objects that we did not know existed - until Gaia turns its supersensitive cameras in their direction. As well as stars, we may find other objects that are very faint, or in areas of the sky where we have not looked in depth yet.

One interesting area of the sky that will be viewed by Gaia is the ‘blindspot’ found between the Sun and Earth’s orbit.

From Earth, we can only observe this area during the daytime (and even then only on clear days without cloud cover), but it is very hard to pick out small objects such as asteroids, because the Sun’s glare renders them virtually invisible.

These asteroids are sometimes moving near enough to Earth to cause concern, but we may not find out about them until they have moved far enough away from the Sun to be seen by a telescope. One particular large group of asteroids, known as the Atens, spends its time weaving between the Sun and Earth’s orbit. We know very little about these families of asteroids following the same orbit. They regularly cross the Earth’s orbit, which makes them at least a potential threat, although most of them are not an actual danger to our planet. However, we need to understand why they are there, where they come from and what they are made of.

With the help of its bird’s eye view from space, and its unprecedented accuracy, Gaia is the ideal candidate for keeping track of the Atens, and similar families of asteroids coming close to our home.

But asteroids and Solar System objects will comprise only a tiny fraction of the objects that Gaia will study. Their detection is a by-product of the main goal of Gaia which is to precisely measure the location, motion and composition of several millions of stars in our Galaxy.

Armed with this information we will gain new insight into the life cycle of our Galaxy and its future.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Mapping The Galaxy, And Watching Our Backyard." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040706081120.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2004, July 6). Mapping The Galaxy, And Watching Our Backyard. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040706081120.htm
European Space Agency. "Mapping The Galaxy, And Watching Our Backyard." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040706081120.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) — Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins