A short article discussing the implications of the Gaia spacecraft on future interstellar travel by Dr Phil Sutton is published in Principium, the quarterly newsletter of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies.
Here, we consider how understanding the positions and movement of stars within our galaxy is important for future missions that might travel beyond our own solar system. One key thing to consider is that stars do not move on Keplerian orbits about the galactic centre and are difficult to understand. Part of this non-Keplerian motion comes a random relative velocity that increases in time due to close encounters with other stars. However, some of the movement of the stars in the galaxy is influenced by dark matter and its distribution. Better understanding how the stars move in our galaxy can help us map out the dark matter more accurately and in turn guide our spacecraft to other stars, at some point in the future.
The full newsletter and article can be found here.
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