This week the European Space Agency (ESA) revealed a 3D map of the Milky Way providing – in color – the best view we've ever had of our galaxy, taken by the ESA's Gaia spacecraft.
Unveiled April 25 at the ILA Berlin Air Show, the map includes positions, distance indicators, and motions of our galaxy's billion-plus stars.
The $1 billion Gaia mission, launched in 2013, maps the sky with unprecedented accuracy. The spacecraft is placed four times beyond the orbit of the moon (1 million miles from earth), far from our home planet’s bright, distracting light. Gaia scans 100,000 stars per minute and covers the entire sky in just two months.
You can experience an all-dome view of the Milky Way, as viewed by the Gaia spacecraft, in our Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium and LSC Giant Dome Theater during our live planetarium show, Wonders of the Night Sky. It's one of the topics we're currently covering as part of our LSC Space News Now segment when we highlight breaking space news.