New European Satellite Set to Study 1 Billion Stars

Data from the mission could help scientists determine the Milky Way’s origin

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Manuel Pedoussuat / AP

The Gaia satellite at the Kourou space base, French Guiana.

A European satellite equipped with two high-powered telescopes was launched into orbit on Thursday in order to carry out an unprecedented survey of the Milky Way.

Dubbed “Gaia,” the satellite is designed to study the distance, movement, position, chemical composition and luminosity of one percent of the galaxy’s 100 billion stars. “The prime importance of this mission is to do galactic archaeology,” Jos de Bruijne, who’s working with the mission, told the AP.

With this new cache of data collected by the two telescopes, scientists hope they will be able to learn more about the origin and evolutionary development of the Milky Way.