The next ESA 'Cornerstone' mission Gaia is scheduled for launch in August 2012. It is designed to map over one billion stars with three instruments to collect astrometric, photometric and spectroscopic data on stars in the Milky Way and in galaxies belonging to the Local Group, distant galaxies, quasars and solar system objects. Gaia builds on the expertise established in Europe through the successful ESA Hipparcos mission, building on that base of European expertise. A broad community of nearly 400 European scientists and engineers are working together to prepare and carry out the extremely challenging mission data processing. The overall objective of GREAT is to prepare the wider community for the science exploitation of the Gaia mission by supporting a science-oriented network which will address the scientific issues in which Gaia will have a major impact. This network will fund community training events, workshops and major conferences, proceedings, grants for short and exchange visits, and outreach material. It will help build essential collaborative scientific cooperation across Europe and the wider world in turn delivering major advances in science around the main objectives of Gaia. Over 550 researchers in some 90 groups from 17 European countries and the European Space Agency (ESA), and covering all the science areas covered by Gaia have committed to participating in this network. GREAT is a pan European science driven research infrastructure which will facilitate, through focused interaction on a European scale, the fullest exploitation of this ESA cornerstone astronomy mission, enabling the European astronomy community to provide answers to the key challenges in our understanding of the Galaxy and Universe.
Full programme proposal
More information can be found on the GREAT webpage
Astronomy, Astrometry, Galaxy, Stellar Evolution, Solar System Physics
5 years from February 2010 until 31 August 2015