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News Picks : Gaia spacecraft encounters micrometeoroid cloud

By: Physics Today
22 July 2014

New Scientist: The European Space Agency's Gaia was launched in December 2013 to Earth's Lagrangian point 2 to create a highly accurate map of 1 billion stars in the Milky Way. Gaia's accuracy is the result of its location combined with a sunshield and extremely sensitive monitoring of its rotation. That sensitivity has revealed that the satellite is being hit by more than 500 micrometeoroids per day, whereas the team monitoring Gaia had expected an impact rate of 1–10 per day. Where the cloud of dust originated is not known, but its presence is important for future missions to L2, such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. The Gaia mission has been plagued by several other difficulties that have delayed the release of data for more than 9 months.

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