Map of Observations
Gaia measures the positions, distances, space motions and many physical characteristics of some one billion+ stars in our Galaxy and beyond. Gaia provides the detailed 3D distributions and space motions of all these stars, down to 20th magnitude. The measurement precision, reaching a few millionths of a second of arc, is unprecedented. This allows our Galaxy to be mapped, for the first time, in three dimensions. Some 10 million stars will be measured with a distance accuracy of better than 1 percent; some 100 million to better than 10 percent. This will establish a rigorous distance scale framework throughout the Galaxy and beyond, and classify star formation and kinematical and dynamical behaviour within the Local Group of galaxies. Solar System studies will receive a massive impetus through the observation of hundreds of thousands of minor planets; near-Earth objects, inner Trojans and even new trans-Neptunian objects, including Plutinos, may be discovered. Gaia will follow the bending of star light by the Sun and major planets over the entire celestial sphere, and therefore directly observe the structure of space-time – the accuracy of its measurement of General Relativistic light bending may reveal the long-sought scalar correction to its tensor form. All this, and more, through the accurate measurement of star positions.
Launch: December 19, 2013
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