ESA’s Gaia Revolutionizing Space Mapping Precision

By Amy Svitak
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
September 02, 2013
Credit: Astrium

Since its 1989 launch, Europe's pioneering Hipparcos Space Astrometry Mission has provided unprecedented detail of the Milky Way galaxy, charting stars and other celestial bodies with a precision akin to measuring the height of an astronaut standing on the Moon when seen from Earth.

The European Space Agency (ESA) ended the Hipparcos campaign in 1993, but the data it cataloged on positions, distances, motions, brightness and colors of more than 100,000 stars has paved the way for Europe's next-generation star-mapper, a €940 million ($1.25 billion) mission known as Gaia.

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