ESA Selects Prime Contractor for Gaia
11 May 2006During a ceremony held in Toulouse on 11 May 2006, ESA officially awarded EADS Astrium the contract to develop and build the Gaia satellite. The goal of this space mission, currently planned for launch in 2011, is to make the largest, most precise map of our own Galaxy to date.
"GAIA is our next grand challenge – to understand our galactic home, the Milky Way," says David Southwood. "It is a great privilege to meet the team in EADS Astrium and to wish them well in working with us in this great project."
Gaia will be the most accurate optical astronomy satellite ever built so far. It will continuously scan the sky for at least five years from the second Lagrange point (L2). This position in space offers a very stable thermal environment, very high observing efficiency (since the Sun, Earth and Moon are behind the instrument field of view) and a low radiation environment.