European scientists report they've completed final tests on a spacecraft to be launched on a 5-year mission to map a billion stars.
Two telescopes on the spacecraft will focus light on a single digital camera -- at more than 1 billion pixels the largest launched into space.
For the last two months Gaia has been undergoing testing at ESA's Kourou spaceport in
"Getting ready for launch is an extremely busy phase for the mission teams but it's also extremely exciting and rewarding to see our mission so close to launch," said
Earlier this month the spacecraft's sunshield, which will both protect the telescopes and camera from the heat of the sun and provide power from its solar cells, passed the final deployment test and has been stowed in its final configuration ready for the launch.
"With this important milestone -- and others -- now completed, we are working through an intensive checklist of final activities that will culminate in the much-awaited launch of our 'discovery machine," Sarri said.
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