Most Detailed Map of Milky Way Galaxy by Gaia Spacecraft. April 2018.

Most Detailed Map of Milky Way Galaxy by Gaia Spacecraft. April 2018.

This is the most detailed and accurate map of Milky Way Galaxy, created by ESA (European Space Agency) scientists using the data acquired by Gaia Spacecraft. It was released on April 25, 2018. The map includes high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars and revealing previously unseen details of our home Galaxy. Image: ESA (European Space Agency) Science & Technology website. You can also see the high-resolution image (8000×4000 pixels, 58.2 Mb) there.

Gaia is a space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA) designed for astrometry: measuring the positions and distances of stars with unprecedented precision. The mission aims to construct the largest and most precise 3D space catalog ever made, totaling approximately 1 billion astronomical objects, mainly stars, but also planets, comets, asteroids and quasars among others.

The spacecraft was launched on December 19, 2013 with a planned mission duration of five years and possible extension by one to four years. Gaia will monitor each of its target objects about 70 times over a period of five years to study the precise position and motion of each target. The spacecraft has enough consumables to operate for approximately nine years, and its detectors are not degrading as fast as initially expected. The mission could therefore be extended. The Gaia targets represent approximately 1% of the Milky Way population with all stars brighter than magnitude 20 in a broad photometric band that covers most of the visual range. Additionally, Gaia is expected to detect thousands to tens of thousands of Jupiter-sized exoplanets beyond the Solar System, at least 500,000 quasars and tens of thousands of new asteroids and comets within the Solar System.

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