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Gaia Blog

Commissioning update

24 Apr 2014, 12:58 UTC
Commissioning update
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The Gaia project team provides an update on the ongoing commissioning activities of ESA’s billion star surveyor…
The work done to bring online all components of the Gaia service module, which houses equipment needed for the basic control and operation of the satellite, has gone very smoothly. The chemical and micro propulsion systems function well, with the latter providing tiny (micro-Newton) thrusts to maintain Gaia’s spin rate, compensating for torques due to solar radiation pressure. The phased array antenna is operating very well, ensuring that we can maintain the high data rates that are needed to downlink all the science data. And the essential rubidium atomic clock is also working to specification.
Exploded view of Gaia spacecraft. Click for more information.
The Gaia scientific payload is also functioning very well. This includes all 106 CCD detectors and the associated electronics units, as well as the seven on-board computers that manage the CCD’s. Alignment and co-focusing of the two telescopes through their movable secondary mirrors is working as expected. Following the last displacement of one of the secondary mirrors by just 3 micrometres, we are currently at the optimal image quality that Gaia can deliver, well balanced across the large focal ...

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