Difference: NotiGaia_060214en ( vs. 1)

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  mxim Gaia comes into focus, 6 February
Gaia calibration Image (ESA/DPAC/Airbus DS) ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is slowly being brought into focus. This test image shows a dense cluster of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.
Once Gaia starts making routine measurements, it will generate truly enormous amounts of data. To maximise the key science of the mission, only small ‘cut-outs’ centred on each of the stars it detects will be sent back to Earth for analysis.
This test picture, taken as part of commissioning the mission to ‘fine tune’ the behaviour of the instruments, is one of the first proper ‘images’ to be seen from Gaia, but ironically, it will also be one of the last.
Before Gaia is ready to enter its five-year operational phase the telescopes must be aligned and focused, ad the instruments calibrated, a painstaking procedure that will take several months .
As part of that process, the Gaia team have been using a test mode to download sections of data from the camera, including this image of NGC1818, a young star cluster in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The image covers an area less than 1% of the full Gaia field of view.
The team is making good progress, but there is still work to be done to understand the full behaviour and performance of the instruments.
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A Gaia test image of the young star cluster NGC1818 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, taken as part of calibration and testing before the science phase of the mission begins. The field-of-view is 212 x 212 arcseconds and the image is approximately oriented with north up and east left. The integration time of the image was 2.85 seconds and the image covers an area less than 1% of the full Gaia field of view. Gaia's overall design is optimised for making precise position measurements and the primary mirrors of its twin telescopes are rectangular rather than round. To best match the images delivered by the telescopes, the pixels in Gaia’s focal plane detectors are then also rectangular. In order to produce this image of NGC1818, the image has been resampled onto square pixels. Furthermore, to maximise its sensitivity to very faint stars, Gaia's main camera does not use filters and provides wide-band intensity data, not true-colour images. The false-colour scheme used here relates to intensity only. The real colours and spectral properties of the stars are measured by other Gaia instruments.
 
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