This is an amazing mission that will conduct the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy a census of a thousand million stars in our Galaxy. It will monitor each of its target stars about 70 times during a five-year period, precisely charting their positions, distances, movements, and changes in brightness. Gaia is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of new celestial objects, such as extra-solar planets and brown dwarfs and quasars. Within our own Solar System, Gaia should also observe hundreds of thousands of asteroids. The spacecraft will also develop new tests for Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
One of the world's great radio telescopes isn't hearing voices – for the first time another giant dish has picked up one of the mysterious "fast radio bursts" (FRBs) that have been puzzling astronomers at the Parkes Radio Telescope. The find confirms these bursts indeed come from outer space, but beyond that their source is still wide open.
Last year the astronomers reported four bursts picked up by the celebrated Australian telescope. As each FRB lasted around a millisecond there was no time to have other telescopes check the same location, and the fact that no other telescope had picked up anything similar raised the possibility that something local was interfering with the Parkes telescope.
Now, however The Astrophysical Journal reports that the 305m Arecibo Telescope has picked up a similar burst while searching for pulsars. The burst occurred in 2012, but not noticed at the time. "FRB 121102's brightness, duration, and the inferred event rate are all consistent with the properties of the previously detected Parkes bursts," the authors report.
First of their kind scans of preserved infant woolly mammoths have made the insight into the early stages of development for the 40,000 year-old prehistoric animals less fuzzy.
According to a report published July 8 in the Journal of Paleontology, researchers performed a full body CT scan of two mammoth newborns, named Lyuba and Khroma, who died at the ages of 1 and 2 months respectively. The skeletal structures of the infants, which researchers consider to be the most well-preserved baby mammoth specimens found to date, gave the scientists the chance to document the various changes that occurred to the body as the ancient pachyderms grew. They also helped determine whether the mammoth gestation periods may have been shorter than that of modern elephants.