Photos: Gaia Spacecraft to Map Milky Way Galaxy

Artist's Impression of Gaia

ESA/D. Ducros

The European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft will create a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way, revealing information about its composition, formation and evolution. The mission will measure the position for about one billion stars in our galaxy and local group, with radial velocity measurements for the brightest 150 million objects. Gaia will launch in 2013 on a five-year mission, with a possible one-year extension. (This gallery was updated with new images on Nov. 15, 2016).

Gaia First Sky Map


This all-sky view of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy, as well as neighboring galaxies, take center stage in this sky map by the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite during its first year of operation.

Gaia first map of Milky Way

ESA / Gaia / DPAC

An annotated version of Gaia's first map of all of the stars in and around the Milky Way galaxy.

Gaia Test Image


A Gaia test image of the young star cluster NGC1818 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This image was released on Feb. 6, 2014. [Read the Full Story Behind This Image Here]

Deployment of Gaia's DSA

ESA/M. Pedoussaut

The Gaia Deployable Sunshield Assembly (DSA) is seen during deployment testing in the S1B integration building at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on October 10, 2013.

Gaia Spacecraft's Trajectory


This diagram shows how ESA's Gaia spacecraft will arrive at in orbit around the L2 Lagragian point.

Deployment of Gaia's DSA

ESA/M. Pedoussaut

The Gaia Deployable Sunshield Assembly (DSA) during deployment testing in the S1B integration building at Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 10 October 2013.

Gaia in the CCU3 Container


Gaia must be transported in the Conteneur Charge Utile 3 (CCU3). This container is effectively a self-contained cleanroom.

Europe's Gaia Spacecraft Blasts Off

ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013

A Soyuz-Fregat rocket carrying the European Space Agency's galaxy-mapping Gaia probe launches from French Guiana on Dec. 19, 2013.

Engineer Almost Inside Gaia Spacecraft


Both Gaia transponders have been re-integrated in the spacecraft, re-connected, and functionally verified. After five days of intensive testing, all results were positive, allowing the re-installation of the solar array panels and of the multilayer insulation (MLI) blankets, which had to be removed for operator access. Kevin Downes, Astrium AIT mechanical engineer, is seen almost inside the Gaia spacecraft.

Gaia Spacecraft in Clean Room at Launch Center


In late August 2013, the Gaia spacecraft was unveiled in the clean room at the launch center of the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

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