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Gaia Blog

One month at L2

12 Feb 2014, 13:30 UTC
One month at L2
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Gaia has been in its operational orbit around L2 for about a month now, where it is undergoing a very rigorous test programme before starting on its main science observations. Like many relocations, it can take some time to settle in, especially for a satellite that demands very precise and stable conditions for smooth operations. Although we are a long way from completing the test programme or “commissioning”, we want to pass along an interim status report after one month. We are pleased to note that all Gaia’s subsystems are working well, including the on-board atomic clock, the antenna to send the science data down to the Earth, and the micropropulsion system. The latter is an important part of maintaining the spacecraft’s current very precise and constant spin rate of 0.016656 degrees per second, or one full revolution every 6 hours and 14.23 seconds. This has allowed us to successfully enter the nominal operational scanning mode. Very importantly, Gaia’s very large CCD focal plane detector array is also working well. You will have seen one of our first test images publicised last week as part of our ongoing work to precisely focus Gaia’s two telescopes (read the full story here). ...

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