The Gaia Mission Keeps Unlocking Secrets of the Galaxy

There are probably 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, stretched across space in a disk shaped like a ninja’s throwing star. It’s so big that, traveling at the speed of light, it’d still take you 100,000 years to traverse it. But if you could find the ideal point in space to stare at these stars around the clock for, say, eight years, tracking their movements and studying their brightness with highly accurate astronomy tools, you’d have created a pretty good moving, living map of the galaxy.

Since 2013, the European Space Agency’s Gaia probe has been doing just that. The mission’s

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