Who's who in Gaia?
Preparing ESA's Gaia mission for launch and operations requires the dedicated effort of several teams. ESA, with the support of the prime contractor, EADS Astrium, will design, build and test the satellite and payload. ESA will also launch and operate the satellite. Scientists from ESA Member States will develop the procedures and capabilities for the acquisition and analysis of data, and will produce the final catalogue. The resulting data from Gaia will be available to the ESA scientific community.
The scientific community is represented by the Gaia Science Team (GST). This team is responsible for coordinating preparatory scientific effort for Gaia and for advising ESA on the priorities, performances and scientific conduct of the mission. Members of the GST take responsibility for specific aspects of the scientific preparation of Gaia. The GST also supervise and take responsibility for the studies that need to be undertaken in a timely manner to ensure proper preparation of the satellite and ground segment efforts. Up until end-2005 (corresponding to the end of the assessment phase) these studies were performed by Working Groups organised around a leader and co-leader, and specializing in different areas broadly covering Satellite & Payload, Specific Objects, and Data Processing.
In April 2005, the Data Analysis Coordination Committee (DACC) was formed in order to lead the formation of a Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC). Reporting to the GST, the DACC devised a consortium structure for the DPAC based on studies of the data analysis carried out during 2000-2004, as well as the Letters of Intent to participate in the Gaia data processing submitted by the community to ESA in March 2005. Following the successful completion of its primary task the DACC was dissolved by the GST in June 2006. This marked the transition to the Gaia DPAC whose first task, under the guidance of the DPAC executive body (DPACE), was the organisation of the Gaia science community response to ESA's Announcement of Opportunity for the Gaia Data Processing. This was submitted to ESA in December 2006.
At ESA the focal points of the Gaia mission are the Project Manager, responsible for interfaces with the industrial teams, and the Project Scientist, responsible for interfaces with the scientific community. The Project Manager is supported by a project team who monitor and direct the progress of industrial contracts. The Project Scientist leads a small team of scientists preparing for Gaia scientific operations.
Various technical contracts have been awarded to industry to support the technical preparations required for this ESA cornerstone mission. These have covered technology development of various critical aspects for Gaia, and detailed design studies for the spacecraft and payload. In 2006 ESA awarded the contract for the construction, testing and delivery to ESA of the Gaia satellite to EADS Astrium.