BEELION-star dataset to land in September

ESA schedules Gaia mission's first data release

Gaia's camera under construction
Gaia's billion-pixel camera under construction in 2011. Image: ESA

It's time for astroboffins and enthusiasts to start clearing space on their hard drives: the European Space Agency has scheduled its first Gaia mission data drop for September 14, 2016.

The ESA says data in the release will include a billion stars' positions and G magnitude, the product of observations from July 2014 and September 2015.

There will also be more detailed data for two million stars that are in the catalogues of both Gaia and Tycho-2. For these stars, the data release will give a “five parameter astrometric solution” that will include the “positions, parallaxes, and proper motions for those objects”.

The ESA adds that “photometric data for RR Lyrae and Cepheid variable stars that were observed frequently during a special scanning mode that repeatedly covered the ecliptic poles will also be made public”.

Launched in 2013, Gaia began its science operations in July 2014. Its observations are made with a billion-pixel camera.

This data release is only part of what Gaia is going to collect. Its mission is slated to last five years, and if all goes well, it will repeat each of its observations 70 times.

That will give astroboffins high-resolution plots not just of stars' positions, but also physical properties like brightness, temperature and chemistry. ®

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017