1.) Gaia has successfully finished the second insertion manoeuvre into the L2 orbit. This final insertion burn was executed this afternoon and could be followed based on tweets of @esaoperations, @ESAGaia and @danielscuka. The latter is a very active ESA employee working at the control centre ESOC in Darmstadt ;). For the manoeuvre the spinning of Gaia was stopped. Then the satellite was oriented for the manoeuvre in a way that during the manoeuvre the instrument will never see the sun. Observing the sun with an instrument build to observe stars of magnitude 20 or even fainter would yield heavy damage to the instruments and had to avoided at any time.
For the burn today 5 of the total 8 10N thrusters of the Chemical Propulsion System of Gaia were used. The burn took about 30 minutes and 25 kg of propellant were used. With this burn Gaia has reached its operational orbit around the L2 point. One orbit will take about 180 days. About every 45 days a small manoeuvre will be necessary to avoid that Gaia will drift away into interstellar space. Note, that orbits around L2 are not completely stable, from time to time small adjustment manoeuvres are necessary to keep the desired orbit.
Update 15/01/2014: ESA has published an article with more interesting facts about this manoeuvre at this location: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/The_experts_behind_Gaia_s_arrival_at_nothingness.
2.) ESA has published a very neat time-lapse video showing launch preparations for the Gaia mission in Kourou starting with the impressive test of the sunshield deployment and ending with several views from the launch. Very impressive. Enjoy the video here: http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2014/01/Time-lapse_film_Soyuz_flight_VS06_with_Gaia.
3.) A colleague of me working at ESAC near Madrid, Emmanuel Joliet, has a nice blog, and now he is also writing about Gaia. There is a very interesting article posted about his involvement in the mission during recent years and his impressions from the launch. A very nice read – and here it is: http://ejoliet.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/gaia-a-chronicle-of-a-launch-foretold/.