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Gaia, a astronomical space probe designed to pinpoint the location of a billion stars to map the Milky Way, was successfully launched today.
This is an important spacecraft, but don’t expect to hear anything about its work now for a long time, as it will take a few years to accumulate the data involved and then a years beyond that to analyze it. Nonetheless, when Gaia’s work is finished we will have our first reasonably good map of the Milky Way, with the ability to project that map forward and backward in time.