November 23 : Nick Rowell - GAIA, Data Release 2 Update.
Nick returned to DAS to give us an update on the latest data from the GAIA mission, and some of the more interesting findings.
Gaia's mission was to go where no man has gone before.. sorry, its mission is to map the stars of our Milky Way Galaxy.
Nick described the science behind the GAIA craft and the data received at the halfway stage of it's survey, with the results and what the final part of it's survey might reveal. So far Gaia has mapped some few billion stars which is about 2% of those but it is expected that by the end of the mission much more will follow. We learned that due to the distance involved many instruments had to be duplicated in case of permanent damage which could be caused by mass solar eruptions and meteor strikes among others. Gaia also needed to be self diagnosing and needed to be able to minimise possible damage if and when it arises since repairs would not be forthcoming from human intervention due to the distances involved.
Funding is being sought to continue the survey beyond the expected lifetime of the craft which it is hoped will continue collecting data for at least five years beyond the ten originally planned.
Thanks to Nick for a superb update on this exciting mission