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GAIAAbbrev. for Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics, an ESA astrometric mission under consideration as part of ESA's Horizon 2000 program. A successor to Hipparcos, GAIA will consist of a continuously scanning satellite providing a global astrometric system in which positions, proper motions, and trigonometric parallaxes will be worked out for about 50 million stars and other celestial objects to an accuracy of better than 10 μas. The satellite should achieve this unprecedented level of precision by its use of an interferometer using a modest baseline and a highly efficient detector incorporating a CCD and allowing parallel rather than sequential observations. The resulting catalog is intended to be complete to a limiting magnitude of 15, but millions of fainter objects down to magnitude 20 should be measurable with less accuracy. GAIA could be launched as early as 2009 or as late as 2014.
Gaia(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
(Also spelled Gaea, Ge.) Greek goddess personifying the "deep-breasted" Earth, who sprang from primeval Chaos. From herself she bore Ouranus; Sky, with whom she mated to produce the Titans; the Furies; the Cyclopes; and the hundred-armed giants, Hekatoncheires. According to Hesiod, the primitive Greeks worshiped the Earth and saw in it the mother-goddess Gaia, from whom all things came. She not only created the universe but also gave birth to the human race.
Although the cult of Gaia remained in Greece, gradually other deities grew in stature, pushing Gaia into the background. She had a number of sanctuaries—at Athens and Sparta, for example—and was especially worshiped at Delphi, Aegae, and Olympia. Gaia was a great prophetess, a healer, and the patroness of marriages.
Even after Gaia had been supplanted as the main deity, the Greeks continued to worship her, placing barley cakes and honey at sacred openings in the Earth's (Gaia's) surface. It was at these fissures—especially at Delphi and Dodona—that prophetesses spoke. According to Monaghan, it was to Gaia that the Greeks swore their most sacred oaths.
Gimbutas says that the triumphant days of the Earth Mother are in August. She says August 15 is now "the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, (and) is a feast of herbs, flowers, and corn richly celebrated to this day in all Catholic countries between Ireland, Lithuania, and Malta. Bouquets of corn ears, flowers, and herbs are brought to church to be blessed by the Goddess, and on this day is made a fat Corn Dolly."
A bumper-sticker and t-shirt slogan sported by many neo-Pagans reads: "Gaia Lives," reflecting the environmental watchword of modern Wicca and Paganism. There is a high consciousness for the environment's condition, with strong recognition of the need to curb pollution and restore harmony between mankind and Earth. In the early 1970s, Tim "Otter" Zell, leader of the Church of All Worlds, had a profound vision relating to Gaia, seeing Earth as a single biological organism. He believed it possible to establish telepathic communication with all beings. But he felt that the reconnection was seriously threatened by pollution and urged immediate involvement/activism on the part of all Witches and Pagans. Gaia remains a favorite goddess to most Wiccans and Pagans and symbolizes emotional ties of many sorts.