Billion-pixel Gaia camera to map galaxy in 3D

The Gaia stargazer launched from French Guiana en route to an orbit 932,000 miles from Earth.

(Credit: ESA)

The Milky Way is about to be seen in a whole new way.

The European Space Agency has successfully launched its Gaia satellite into orbit, bringing a 1 billion-pixel camera detector to map our galaxy in 3D.

The stargazer lifted off on Thursday aboard a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from a launch pad at Sinnamary in French Guiana. Its mission is to map the precise location of over a billion stars.

Its instruments are expected to help discover planets, asteroids, and supernovas, as well as reveal a better understanding of the origin and structure of the Milky Way.

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