Astronomy Fun Fact #82
In December of 2013, the European Space Agency launched Gaia, a powerful astrometric telescope, into space.
The telescope cost 650 million euros (~$730 million) to build, but it was so worth it. I've used Gaia data in three of my last four research projects because the data is so impressive.
Gaia is primarily an astrometric mission, which means it's main goal is to monitor and record the positions and motions of stars around the galaxy. In fact, Gaia is responsible for producing the most accurate and precise map of the galaxy that's ever been made, having recorded the positions for more than 1 BILLION stars!
By the time the mission is over in 2022, scientists will be able to use Gaia data to study comets, exoplanets, quasars, galaxy dynamics, and dark matter.