Controllers at the European Space Agency’s facility in Darmstadt, Germany, nudged the $1.3 billion Gaia spacecraft into its operational orbit at the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrangian point on Jan. 14, setting the mission up to produce a 3D star map of the galaxy with unprecedented precision. The final trajectory adjustment required only a brief burn of the spacecraft’s thrusters, following an almost 2-hr. firing last week to set up the orbit around the imaginary point 1.5 million km from Earth on ...

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