Gaia Calibration

A calibration image from Gaia. Copyright ESA/DPAC/Airbus DS

Testing on the Gaia spacecraft is apparently going nicely if this image of NGC 1818 is any indication.

About the image from ESA:

A Gaia test image of the young star cluster NGC1818 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, taken as part of calibration and testing before the science phase of the mission begins. The field-of-view is 212 x 212 arcseconds and the image is approximately oriented with north up and east left. The integration time of the image was 2.85 seconds and the image covers an area less than 1% of the full Gaia field of view.

Gaia’s overall design is optimised for making precise position measurements and the primary mirrors of its twin telescopes are rectangular rather than round. To best match the images delivered by the telescopes, the pixels in Gaia’s focal plane detectors are then also rectangular. In order to produce this image of NGC1818, the image has been resampled onto square pixels. Furthermore, to maximise its sensitivity to very faint stars, Gaia’s main camera does not use filters and provides wide-band intensity data, not true-colour images. The false-colour scheme used here relates to intensity only. The real colours and spectral properties of the stars are measured by other Gaia instruments.

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