It’s one thing to make sure you have enough room on your hard drive for every episode of Star Trek. It’s quite another to make room for a petabyte — a million gigabytes — of data for a billion stars in our galaxy and even beyond.
If you’ve ever wondered how Star Trek’s computer banks could possibly store the locations and trajectories of all those conveniently located M-class stars, look no further than Gaia, one of the European Space Agency’s scientific programs. Gaia’s mission: to gather immense amounts of data on a billion stars and other objects over a five-year period, process it over a seventeen-year period and reconstruct the most precise 3D map of our galaxy ever created.
Xavier Luri is the current leader of the Gaia Archive and one of the original authors of the Gaia mission proposal. I met Luri earlier this year over Skype, and we…
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