A European space probe, Gaia, is gearing up to leave for space soon. The probe cost a whopping £840 million and is expected to map a billion stars as well as gather details about dark matter.
The probe weighs two tonnes and is equipped with some of the latest astronomical hardware. It will be ejected into the space through a Russian Soyuz rocket on December 19 and will remain in orbit for the next five years.
Scientists are very hopeful about Gaia and believe that the probe will finally be able to gather information about exploding stars, galaxies, details about the Milky Way, new suns and asteroids and a lot more. Gaia will also be able to make calculations about the presence of dark matter and dark energy, helping us understand these phenomenon better.
The spacecraft will be equipped with two telescopes which will allow it to get a detailed view of the entire sky at all times. According to Professor Gerry Gilmore of Cambridge University, who is also the principal Gaia investigator from Britain, “The results from Gaia will revolutionise our understanding of the cosmos as never before. Our understanding of what’s out there has been driven by looking at what we can see. We’ve never had a genuine opportunity to look at everything, to know what’s there, and to know where they are in relation to each other. We don’t even know how much we don’t know – there are sure to be objects out there that don’t even have names yet, since we don’t yet realise how strange they are.’
The immense amounts of data gathered by Gaia will be processed at a high-tech facility at Cambridge. According to the data processing team members, Gaia includes sensors which are 4,000 times more powerful than the human eye. These sensors will enable the probe to reveal previously unknown details about dark energy and dark matter.
Courtesy: Daily Mail