With a final, modest, thruster burn yesterday afternoon, ESA’s billion-star surveyor finalised its entry into orbit around ‘L2’, a virtual point far out in space. But how do you orbit nothing? And who can show you how to get there, anyway?
From cleanroom to liftoff, watch an incredible time-lapse movie of Gaia's final preparations on Earth before shooting for the stars
A new planetarium show, Journey to a billion Suns, premieres today in Hamburg, Germany, to tell the fascinating story of mapping the Milky Way, from ancient times to ESA’s recently launched Gaia mission.
ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is now in its operational orbit around a gravitationally stable virtual point in space called ‘L2’, 1.5 million km from Earth.
ESA PR 44-2013: ESA’s Gaia mission blasted off this morning on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on its exciting mission to study a billion suns.
Watch a replay of ESA's billion-star surveyor Gaia launching into space at 09:12 GMT/10:12 CET this morning
ESA’s Gaia mission to survey a billion stars is ‘go’ for launch. The satellite has passed its final checks and is ready to be launched tomorrow from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou.
Shortly after a powerful Soyuz launcher lofts Gaia, ESA’s new star mapper, into space on Thursday, teams on the ground will establish initial radio contact. Even then, tension will run high in ESA’s mission control as Gaia must still perform a critical automatic sequence.
ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia, less than a week from launch, is now tucked up inside the fairing that will protect it during the first few minutes of ascent into space.
The European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite is ready for launch on 19 December at 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET). The launch will be covered live from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana for broadcasters and on the web, and can be followed at local events in Europe.
How Gaia’s billion-pixel camera will study a billion stars
Step back in time and explore the Gaia mission’s historical roots with our new series of articles on the history of astrometry, the ancient science of charting the sky
Take a virtual journey from the centre to the outskirts of the Milky Way
Yesterday, the decision was taken to postpone the launch of ESA’s Gaia mission after a technical issue was identified in another satellite already in orbit.
Latest spacecraft pictures from Kourou
Launch campaign and commissioning