Astrometry from Space: An Overview of the European Space Agency’s Hipparcos Satellite

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2008-06-14
Authors
Runyon, Kirby
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Houghton College
Abstract
The European Space Agency’s Hipparcos satellite was launched in 1989 to provide a high-precision catalogue of stellar astrometric data, including parallaxes and luminosities, from above Earth’s dimming and distorting atmosphere. Despite the satellite failing to reach its intended geosynchronous orbit, its mission successfully measured astrometric characteristics of 120,000 stars and photometric and less accurate astrometric properties of approximately one million stars. Since the mission’s end, the data have been reduced into several catalogues that have proven useful in determining other astrometric and astrophysical properties of stellar phenomena. This report will describe the motivation for and details of the Hipparcos mission, the data reduction, the applications of these data, and the prospects for future space-based astrometry missions.
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