The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hipparcos satellite improved our knowledge of the position and velocity of 120,000 stars by two orders of magnitude in the 1990s and ESA’s Gaia satellite is due to repeat that feat for a billion stars (see diagram). Due for launch in November, Gaia contains the largest imaging detector ever flown in space (built by Britain’s e2v) and it will also detect tens of thousands of planets around other stars, of near-Earth asteroids and of supernovas in distant galaxies. This is the most exciting of the world’s space science launches in 2013 and it will be described by ESA’s Gaia Project Manager, Giuseppe Sarri.
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Giuseppe Sarri holds a master university degree in Nuclear Engineering from the Politecnico di Torino (I). From 1983 to 1989 he worked at the Microtecnica SpA on several aircraft projects. He joined the European Space Agency in 1989 initially working in the Columbus programme. In 1994 he moved to the Science Directorate. Since then he has been the Payload Manager of Integral (the high energy observatory), the Study Manager of Eddington (the planet finding mission) and, for a short period, he was involved in the development of Planck (the cosmic background observatory). In 2005 he joined the Gaia team as Payload Manager responsible for the procurement of the telescopes, focal plane and relevant processing units. Since summer 2009 he is the Gaia Project Manager.