The Gaia collaboration, which is responsible for the spacecraft that is currently building the largest and most precise three-dimensional map of our galaxy, will receive the 2023 Lancelot M. Berkeley − New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy. Bestowed annually since 2011 by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and supported by a grant from the New York Community Trust, the Berkeley prize includes a monetary award and an invitation to give the closing plenary lecture at the AAS winter meeting, often called the “Super Bowl of Astronomy.” The 241st AAS meeting will be held in Seattle, Washington, from 8 to 12 January 2023.
Since its beginning, Gaia has counted on the participation of a team of astronomers and engineers of the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona (ICCUB) and the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC). Now, it is being honored with the 2023 Berkeley prize for enabling a transformative, multidimensional map of the Milky Way. Since its launch in 2013, the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope has recorded stellar positions, distances, colors, and proper motions for nearly two billion stars in our galaxy. According to the prize statement, “Gaia’s three data releases will long be regarded as major events in the history of astronomy, triggering a global partnership to better understand the origin, structure, and destiny of our home galaxy.”
A number of Spanish institutions are participating actively in the Gaia Collaboration including the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona (ICCUB-IEEC), which is leading the Spanish contribution, the University of A Coruña (UdC), the University of Vigo (UVigo) and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS).
The role of the ICCUB-IEEC team focused on the scientific and technological design of the project, the development of the data processing system and the production of simulated data. A part of the software for the processing of the data sent by the satellite has been developed by the ICCUB-IEEC team and is executed at the MareNostrum computer, of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS).