GAIA space telescope successfully launched!

The European Space Agency has launched the GAIA space telescope, to resume the work of the Hipparchos satellite that produced such an incomparable catalog of stars.  GAIA is significantly more powerful than Hipparchos, so the results should be fantastic.  It will take the spacecraft some time to reach the Sun-Earth L2 point where it will reside, and then it will need to undergo the usual commissioning period, but once it’s done with all that, it will embark upon its mission to catalog one billion stars.  (That’s a US billion.  To European readers, a thousand million stars.)

The telescope was launched by a Soyuz-2 rocket from Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, South America.  Check out the spectacular night launch highlights here!


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