Introduction to GREAT
The ESA Gaia Science Team and the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium are working with others in the community to build the European science capacity to successfully exploit the upcoming ESA Gaia cornerstone mission. This movie produced by ESA provides a nice summary of how Gaia will revolutionise our knowledge of the Milky Way and wider Universe.
GREAT is the programme which will bring together relevant scientific expertise by promoting topical workshops, training events, exchange visits, conferences and so forth with the aim of addressing the major scientific issues that the Gaia satellite will impact upon.
GREAT will build upon the networking activities currently carried out through the EU FP6 ELSA programme. ELSA (European Leadership in Space Astrometry) has the aim to ‘develop the theoretical understanding and practical analysis tools of importance for the European Space Agency's astrometric mission Gaia and to foster the development of a new generation of researchers in the area of space astrometry.’ In this context ELSA students and early stage researchers are addressing a number of important topics supporting the development and future scientific operation of the Gaia mission. GREAT, on the other hand, will help build the capacity of the science community in the exploitation of Gaia data.
The GREAT initiative is now enabled through our European Science Foundation (ESF) research networking programme which runs from Feb 2010 to Feb 2015. This network will fund community training events, workshops and major conferences, proceedings, grants for short and exchange visits, and outreach material. It will help build essential collaborative scientific cooperation across Europe and the wider world in turn delivering major advances in science around the main objectives of Gaia. Over 550 researchers in some 90 groups from 17 European countries and the European Space Agency (ESA), and covering all the science areas covered by Gaia have committed to participating in this network.
In addition a proposal (GREAT-ITN) was submitted to the EU Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7) (call FP7-PEOPLE-2010-ITN) in order to support an Initial Training Network to provide training to a core of early stage researchers, able to participate in the development of the GREAT programme and future scientific exploitation of Gaia. Further details of this are announced here.