European Space Agency (ESA) European Space Agency Chooses InterSystems CACHÉ Database For Gaia Mission to Map Milky Way

European Space Agency

On December 19, 2013, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way. Because an enormous amount of data will need to be quickly stored and analyzed, ESA has selected Caché as the advanced database technology to support the scientific processing of the Gaia mission.

With Caché, we obtain considerably superior performance and scalability than is possible with other databases.

William O’Mullane, Scientific Operations Manager of the Gaia mission
European Space Agency

Gaia will spend five years monitoring a billion stars in our galaxy. It will collect data on each of them about 70 times, precisely measuring their positions, distances, movements, and changes in brightness. It is expected that the Gaia mission will discover hundreds of thousands of new celestial objects, such as extrasolar planets and failed stars called brown dwarfs. Within our own solar system, Gaia is expected to observe hundreds of thousands of asteroids.

All of this adds up to an astronomical amount of data to be collected and analyzed. A key element of the Gaia satellite is the Astrometric Global Iterative Solution (AGIS), which iteratively refines the spatial accuracy of all the Gaia measurements.

In the course of its operation, AGIS must be able to insert up to 50 billion Java objects into a database within seven days. Caché is the only database ESA found that could provide the necessary performance and scalability with only moderate hardware requirements.


The key is advanced technology, found only in Caché, which allows Java objects to be inserted directly into the multidimensional structures used by the Caché database engine. Says William O’Mullane, scientific operations manager of the Gaia mission for ESA, “With Caché, we obtain considerably more superior performance and scalability than is possible with other databases.”

The information Gaia collects will allow scientists to learn a great deal about the origin, structure, and evolutionary history of our galaxy.

About the European Space Agency

The ESA is formed by 18 Member States.  Coordination of its members’ economic and intellectual resources allows it to venture in a broader array of activities and programmes than those which any European country may individually undertake.

Its purpose is to elaborate and implement the development of European space capacity and guarantee that the investment in space activities shall continue to provide benefits to the citizens of Europe. For additional information on the Gaia initiative, please view the Gaia mission overview and Gaia mission factsheet.