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PRESS RELEASE: Astronomy contract sees Viglen go to infinity and beyond

February 2012

Astellar contract has been secured with the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge that will see their technology used to assist in the ESA Gaia satellite project. The initiative, which aims to create the largest and most precise three dimensional chart of our Galaxy by providing positional measurements of unprecedented accuracy, supplemented by photometric data for approximately one billion stars, is a European-wide programme which the University of Cambridge is contributing to with financial support provided by the UK Space Agency.
Viglen, whose major shareholder is Lord Sugar, has provided a High Performance Computer system for the university, in a contract worth £750,000. The ICT solution, which comprises an Intel powered 1.2PB Hadoop cluster capable of processing 40GB daily, will help in the process of revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy.
The Gaia satellite, which contains the largest digital camera ever built, will orbit the Sun at a distance of 1.5 million km from Earth and will feed the data centre with a billion-pixel video of stars, galaxies, quasars and solar system asteroids for five years after launch. In order to process Gaia’s photometric data, a system has been developed using Viglen’s technology that can calibrate the ‘raw’ transmitted photometric data.
Gaia is one of the most important current space projects for the UK and has won approximately €80 million of contracts from the European Space Agency supported by contributions from the UK Space Agency to build parts of the spacecraft. The UK Space Agency is providing £10M funding to Gaia projects across the UK including to the University of Cambridge which is leading the prime photometric processing and real-time science unit.

“We are extremely proud to be involved in such an exciting astronomy project and that Viglen is playing such a crucial role in the Gaia mission. Our technology is perfect for this function as it is designed to process large amounts of data quickly and we look forward to seeing the results in years to come.”
Bordan Tkachuk
Viglen CEO

For further information on the ESA Gaia satellite project please click here.