The Gaia Spacecraft
Gaia, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), surveys the sky from Earth orbit to create the largest, most precise, three-dimensional map of our Galaxy. One year ago, the Gaia mission produced its much-awaited second data release, which included high-precision measurements — positions, distance and proper motions — of more than one billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy. This catalogue has enabled transformational studies in many fields of astronomy, addressing the structure, origin and evolution the Milky Way and generating more than 1700 scientific publications since its launch in 2013.
This image shows an artist's impression of the Gaia spacecraft, with the Milky Way in the background.Credit:
ESA/ATG medialab; background image: ESO/S. Brunier