NEWS: 20190426: The 12th GREAT Plenary will be held 28th April 2019 in Lyon, FR within the EAS European Week of Astronomy (EWASS 2019) (24-28 June 2019) as Special Session SS28 (Gaia Status and Exploration Lab). The programme is online at

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Introduction to the GREAT Research Network Programme
GREAT is a pan European science driven research infrastructure which is facilitating, through focused interaction on a European scale, the fullest exploitation of the ESA Gaia 'cornerstone' astronomy mission, enabling the European astronomy community to provide answers to the key challenges in our understanding of the Galaxy and Universe.
Gaia successfully launched in
December 2013. It is mapping over one billion stars with three instruments to collect astrometric, photometric and spectroscopic data on stars in the Milky Way and in galaxies belonging to the Local Group, distant galaxies, quasars and solar system objects. Gaia builds on the expertise established in Europe through the successful ESA Hipparcos mission.

GREAT is the programme which brings together relevant scientific expertise by promoting topical workshops, training events, exchange visits, conferences and so forth with the aim of addressing the major scientific issues that the Gaia satellite will impact upon. This
movie produced by ESA provides a nice summary of how Gaia will revolutionise our knowledge of the Milky Way and wider Universe.

The ESF supported GREAT RNP ended 31 August 2015. However, a follow-on programme (GREAT2Net) is proposed to coincide with the mission phase of Gaia, and will be active in the period 2016-2020.

GREAT Network Science Areas

GREAT provides support through its European Science Foundation Research Networking Programme for a wide range of community proposed events covering the key objective areas of the programme, largely focussed on gaining a deeper understanding of our Milky Way.

These key topic areas are:
• Origin, structure, and evolution of the Milky Way
• Stellar astrophysics
• Galactic Dynamics
• Galactic Archaeology
• Star Formation and evolution
• Fundamental physics and the Reference Frame
• Extrasolar planets
• Binary Stars
• The Solar system
• The IT Data Challenge from Gaia

In addition, through the lifetime of the programme, specific areas for prioritisation maybe highlighted, as reported at the GREAT plenary meetings.

GREAT Funding Providers

The GREAT ESF programme is supported by the
European Science Foundation through the GREAT Research Network Programme. This programme runs 1st February 2010 to 31st August 2015. In addition the related GREAT ITN (Initial Training Network) programme was supported (Mar 2011 - Feb 2015) by the EC through its FP7 Marie Curie programme under grant agreement 264895.

Page revised: 25 Nov 2015 by NAW