The article linked below is actually quite dull in my opinion, but the topic is enormously exciting. ESA’s Gaia spacecraft — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_(spacecraft) — is in the process of mapping the brightest 1 billion objects in our sky, and measuring their color and movement at the same time. By the time the final data is released (starting with first results today and continuing through 2022) we’ll have a detailed map of the nearest ~5000 light years (my estimate) from the Sun as well a hugely improved catalog of asteroids and comets in our own solar system.
The usefulness of such a catalog is profound. Hipparcos made a similar catalog in the 1990s containing a couple million stars. At the time, it made a spectacular impact. Gaia’s data will cover 100x the star count at ~100x the data quality!
Originally shared by Phys.org
Mapping our galaxy: The Milky Way revealed – The European Space Agency will unveil on Wednesday a three-dimensional map of a billion stars in our galaxy that is 1,000 times more complete than anything existing today.