2. A Gaia space craft that is on a "Gaia mission" whose main goal is to make the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy by surveying an unprecedented one per cent of its population of 100 billion stars.
Astronomers will have the challenge of dealing with a flood of data when Gaia begins its work in 2012. Even after being compressed by software, the data produced by the five-year mission will fill over 30 000 CD ROMs. This data will be transmitted "raw" and they will need processing on Earth to turn it into a calibrated set of measurements that can be freely used by the astronomical community.
For more details about Gaia or Gaea, go to Earth, Words from the Myths.