Gaia is the European Space Agency mission which will provide a stereoscopic census of our Galaxy through the measurement of high accuracy astrometry, radial velocities and multi-colour photometry. Gaia is scheduled for launch in late 2011 and over the course of its five year mission will measure parallaxes and proper motions for every object in the sky brighter than magnitude 20 --- amounting to about 1 billion stars, galaxies, quasars and solar system objects.
It will achieve an astrometric accuracy of 12-25 micro-arcseconds, depending on colour, at 15th magnitude and 100-300 micro-arcseconds at 20th magnitude. Multi-colour photometry will be obtained for all objects by means of low-resolution spectrophotometry between 330 and 1000 nm. In addition radial velocities with a precision of 1-15 km/s will be measured for all objects to 17th magnitude.
ELSA is a Marie-Curie research training network which brings together world-leading expertise in space astrometry, the use of space platforms for mapping the three-dimensional structure of our Galaxy, with specialists on numerical algorithms and software engineering for the double purpose of (1) preparing for the scientific exploitation of data from the Gaia mission and (2) training the next generation of researchers in this uniquely European specialty to maintain and extend European leadership in space astrometry.
The primary goal of ELSA is to develop a new theoretical understanding of the conceptual, physical, and numerical aspects of space astrometry and turn this understanding into practical analysis tools which will form an essential contribution towards the Gaia data processing system. However, it is the science goals of the Gaia mission which provide the prime motivation for this research training network and it is the aim of this workshop to provide the participants with an extensive overview of the science of Gaia.
In the first week there will be two lectures each morning on specific topics from Gaia's science programme. The lecture programme is listed below. These lectures are accompanied by exercises to be carried out by the participants in the afternoon sessions, the results of which will be presented and debated during the discussion session. During the three days in the second week there will be lectures on: GRID computing; the proper interpretation of astrometric survey data; the realization of space projects as seen from the perspective of industry and the European Space Agency; the building of ESA's science programme; Gaia in the context of other space missions and future ground-based observatories.
The workshop is organized for the ELSA PhD students and post-docs but is open to participants from outside the network. However the number of places is limited so early registration is encouraged. Participants from outside the network should conduct research in a field relevant to Gaia and are required to present a poster. In addition they should arrange for a letter of recommendation to be sent to: email@example.com. In case there are not enough places available a selection will be made based on the applicant's research field and the letter of recommendation. Preference will be given to PhD students and starting post-docs.