The key to Gaia's success will be its stability: A steady position and temperature translates into an accurate galactic map. The craft's payload is the first to be made entirely of silicon carbide, a stiff ceramic relatively insensitive to heat and cold. A 33-foot insulated sunshade keeps the payload in shadow, and the thermal tent helps block stray radiation from the sun and from deep space. The power system includes a lithium-ion battery, which briefly runs a set of thrusters after the spacecraft disengages from the Russian Soyuz-Fregat rocket that will launch it from Earth. Not long after launch, Gaia's battery will shut down, and the system's 140-square-foot gallium-arsenide solar arrays will take over, powering the craft.