ESA Bulletin 137: ESA's 'billion-pixel' camera
2 March 2009The latest issue of the ESA Bulletin carries an article about ESA's 'billion-pixel camera' for Gaia.
Gaia, ESA's global space astrometry mission, is designed to measure the positions, distances, space motions, and many physical characteristics of some one billion stars in our Galaxy and beyond. The primary mission product, the Gaia catalogue, constructed from five years of continuous scanning of the celestial sphere, will provide scientists with the measurements needed to significantly improve our understanding of the composition, formation, and evolution of our Galaxy.
One of the keys to achieving this scientific goal is a large focal plane carrying 106 state-of-the-art CCDs. In fact, when Gaia is launched from ESA's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, by the end of 2011 it will carry the largest digital camera in the Solar System. In ESA Bulletin 137, Philippe Garé, Giuseppe Sarri and Rudolf Schmidt describe the progress that has been made in developing and procuring the sophisticated CCDs that make up this unique space camera.