Gaia news flash #17: How stars are detected and some additional information about the commissioning status

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ESA has published today some very interesting information how stars are actually detected by Gaia. This is done with the help of 14 Sky Mapper (SM) CCDs. A real SM CCD image (please see above) was published showing the image with and without detection markers. Feel free to find some undetected stars, but please do not mix them with hits by cosmic rays.  😉

Much more details about this topic can be found in the ESA blog entry:  http://blogs.esa.int/gaia/2014/04/03/detecting-sources/.

There is also some additional information given about the current commissioning activities. We are still working on the issue of unexpected stray light levels. Several manoeuvres of Gaia with different orientations towards the Sun were performed to identify the source(s) of the stray light observed. Significantly progress was made in understanding the situation. The analysis of the data collected by Gaia and from the ground is still ongoing by the teams of ESA, Airbus DS and our DPAC.

Another issue mentioned is that there are indications of some contamination of the payload, presumably by water ice. The water may have entered the payload module during the final launch preparations in Kourou as it was raining at the spaceport at this time – despite the fact that Gaia was under air-condition almost all the time. Several parts of the payload were heated to get rid of the remaining water. Now the payload has to cool down again to operational temperatures. Nevertheless, data is already taken to start to analyse if still some water ice is present within the thermal tent enclosing the payload. The entire process will take a few more weeks to be finished.

Complex space missions are not easy – otherwise someone else would have done a mission like this already. We are doing our best and are working hard to bring Gaia in the best condition possible for the normal operations. We are on a good way I think. 😉

 

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2 thoughts on “Gaia news flash #17: How stars are detected and some additional information about the commissioning status

  1. Thank you very much for the Gaia stray light issue status. Some of us are almost biting our fingernails in anticipation of the low-light end success of this mission. And as tax payers, we feel we have a right to be kept up-to-date.

  2. Pingback: Allgemeines Live-Blog ab dem 5. April 2014 | Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null

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