Why you can trust us

Engadget has been testing and reviewing consumer tech since 2004. Our stories may include affiliate links; if you buy something through a link, we may earn a commission. Read more about how we evaluate products.

Europe's billion-pixel camera blasts into space to snap the galaxy

When thinking about powerful cameras, most gadget nuts would be happy with a Lumia 1020 or a 5D Mark III, but neither of those can match what's just left the planet. The European Space Agency has launched the Gaia satellite with a mission to photograph and map the galaxy surrounding us with an unprecedented level of detail and accuracy. Armed with a one billion pixel camera, the lens can pinpoint a far-away star with an error margin of seven micro-arcseconds, or measure a person's thumbnail on the moon -- from Earth. The satellite will now travel 1.5 million kilometers away from our home, a which point it'll begin a five year mission to, you know, explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly photograph where no one has photographed before.