SPC Approves DPAC Proposal for Gaia Data Processing
07 Jun 2007At its most recent meeting in Paris, ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC) has approved the proposal by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) submitted in response to the AO for Gaia data processing, issued last November.
The approval of the SPC marks an important milestone for the Gaia mission, scheduled for launch in December 2011. DPAC now formally is responsible for the building and operation of the mission's data processing ground segment.
Gaia will produce ~100 TB of raw data during its nominal five years of operation at L2. It will be a major challenge, even by the standards of computational power in the next decade, to process, manage and extract the scientific results necessary to build a self-consistent solution of the relative position of all the objects in the sky detected by Gaia. The resulting phase space map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, will contain kinematic, spectroscopic and photometric information of an unprecedented nature and completeness.
The demanding requirements to fulfil this task led to the decision by the scientific community to pool all their efforts into one consortium (DPAC) which would be responsible for the entire pipeline processing - from ingestion of the raw data to the catalogue output.
DPAC is a collaboration between the ESA Gaia Science Operations Centre (SOC) - located in Villafranca del Castillo near Madrid, Spain - and a substantial and broad scientific community. It comprises more than 300 individuals (scientists and software engineers) from 15 countries and 6 Data Processing Centres. The pan-European consortium is organized into eight Coordination Units (CU) each of which is dedicated to a particular aspect of the full data processing task:
CU2: Data Simulations
CU3: Core Processing
CU4: Object Processing
CU5: Photometric Processing
CU6: Spectroscopic Processing
CU7: Variability Processing
CU8: Astrophysical Parameters
A ninth unit (CU9: Catalogue Access) will be added through selection in a separate future AO when a more detailed view of the actual Gaia data products and required access methods is available.
The DPAC was formed in 2005 from the existing Gaia working groups. These groups had already done substantial work for example with early software development and running of feasibility studies. With the approval by the SPC, DPAC may now continue the work up to completion of the final Gaia catalogue in ~2020.