Construction approved for world's most powerful digital camera
||It would take 1,500 high-definition television screens to display just one image from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope's high-resolution camera. Image: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory|
The US Department of Energy has approved the start of construction for a 3.2-gigapixel digital camera — the world's largest — at the heart of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Assembled at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the camera will be the eye of LSST, revealing unprecedented details of the universe and helping unravel some of its greatest mysteries.
The construction milestone, known as Critical Decision 3, is the last major approval decision before the acceptance of the finished camera, says LSST Director Steven Kahn: "Now we can go ahead and procure components and start building it."
Starting in 2022, LSST will take digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from atop a mountain called Cerro Pachón in Chile. It will produce a wide, deep and fast survey of the night sky, cataloguing by far the largest number of stars and galaxies ever observed. During a 10-year time frame, LSST will detect tens of billions of objects — the first time a telescope will observe more galaxies than there are people on Earth — and will create movies of the sky with unprecedented detail. Funding for the camera comes from the DOE, while financial support for the telescope and site facilities, the data management system, and the education and public outreach infrastructure of LSST comes primarily from the National Science Foundation.
The telescope's camera — the size of a small car and weighing more than three tons — will capture full-sky images at such high resolution that it would take 1,500 high-definition television screens to display just one of them.