Gaia Live!

27 March 2014

Gaia Live!

Megan Whewell, George Seabroke and Daisuke Kawata visited the UCL Academy, and explained about the European Space Agency’s new astrometry mission, Gaia (launched on 19th December 2013). This is a part of a Pan-European outreach event for the Gaia mission, Gaia Live in school (http://great.ast.cam.ac.uk/great-itn/gaialive) organised by the GREAT-ITN network, of which MSSL is one of the associate nodes. During the event, 34 schools in different countries in Europe linked up with ESA, and learned about the Gaia mission, which will map a billion stars in our Milky Way. 

MSSL Student Megan Whewell at Gaia Live!

About 40 students of year 7 and 8 participated in the event. Megan started explaining about the Sun and the solar system, and then stars. George then showed how, we think, our Milky Way looks externally, and explained the Gaia satellite itself and what Gaia is doing. After watching the Gaia launch video, we connected live to the ESA operations centre in Germany. Gaia Spacecraft Operations Manager, David Milligan, and Gaia Project Scientist, Timo Prusti, described the Gaia mission in detail, and then took questions from the schools through a live-chat connection. Two of the questions, “When will the Gaia data become available?”, and “What is showing on the screens (behind them) in the operation centre?”, from the UCL academy were answered, enabling the students at the academy to feel the “live” aspect of the event. 

MSSL Post-Doc George Seabroke at Gaia Live!

After the live link, we took many questions from the students, asking about the space mission, stars, galaxies and also black holes, white holes and worm holes! Our favourite moment was when a student asked whether NASA is involved in Gaia.  George replied no and said that star mapping from space is an activity in which Europe are world leading.  On hearing this, the students cheered and spontaneously burst into a round of applause!  “That’s why we love school events – you never know how the students will react!” The time passed very quickly, and we could not take all the questions. It was great to see the enthusiastic interests of the students in the space missions, stars and galaxies. We hope that the event inspired future space scientists. 

Page last modified on 27 mar 14 08:53