PARIS — The European Space Agency (ESA) launched its €940 million ($1.3 billion) Gaia star-mapping spacecraft Dec. 19 after postponing the mission one month due to technical issues involving a component flying on another satellite already in orbit. Equipped with twin silicon-carbide telescopes built around a single, 1-billion-pixel focal array, Gaia is designed to survey a billion stars in the Milky Way, providing a precise 3-D map to better understand the galaxy’s composition, formation ...

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