About ELSA

ELSA 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 in order to

Gaia will perform a stereoscopic census of our Galaxy by measuring accurate distances, motions and astrophysical data for a billion stars. The results will greatly affect nearly all areas of astrophysical research. The scientific management of the mission, including the complex data analysis, requires a mix of specialist skills in space astrometry, software engineering, numerical methods and instrument modelling. This combination is rarely found at a single institute and never in current PhD programmes. It exists however on the European level thanks to the ongoing preparation effort for Gaia and past experience from Hipparcos (launched by ESA, 1989). The RTN will enhance collaboration between key institutes in the field and transmit the expertise acquired to the next generation of researchers.

The research programme has challenging but tangible goals whose outcome will be a key contribution to the Gaia preparations. The data analysis problem is penetrated through novel research, numerical simulations, and GRID computing, leading to new and improved methods for its solution. The appointment of PhD students and postdocs is used to achieve a balanced mix of competence, e.g. between astronomy and software engineering, and to ensure a lively exchange of results through meetings and secondments. The network will attract young research talents to an innovative field and provide excellent training in the context of a high-ranking scientific project.

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