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Space Science

Construction of ESA Galaxy Mapping Satellite Completed 45

coondoggie writes with an article in Network World. From the article: "The European Space Agency says it has completed what it calls the largest digital camera ever built for a space mission — a one billion pixel array camera that will help create a three-dimensional picture of the Milky Way Galaxy. Set to be launched onboard the ESA's galaxy-mapping Gaia mission in 2013, the digital camera was 'mosaicked together from 106 separate electronic detectors.' ESA says that Gaia's measurements will be so accurate that, if it were on Earth, it could measure the thumbnails of a person on the Moon."
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Construction of ESA Galaxy Mapping Satellite Completed

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  • by Trapezium Artist ( 919330 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @01:57PM (#36673316)

    To avoid any confusion, we have finished the assembly of the focal plane assembly (i.e. those 106 large CCDs), but not the full-up satellite itself. That still has a way to go, with launch likely at the end of 2012 or early 2013. But it's nevertheless a great achievement to have the huge detector array done and is a real milestone for us.

    Also, Gaia isn't taking pretty pictures of the sky per se: via repeated scans over the sky, it's going to provide extremely accurate positions and velocities for about one billion stars in the Milky Way, allowing us to trace their motions back (and forward) in time, and thus understand how the Milky Way was put together in the first place. It does much, much more than that, so if you're interested, I suggest you follow the link in the original submission for more.

    (DIsclosure: I work for ESA and am close to the project)

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