20th May 2024

A Virtual World of Live Pictures

Technology and Computer

What The World’s Biggest Digital Camera Will Image In 3.2 Gigapixels

This is what the world’s biggest and best digital camera will image in 3.2 gigapixels

One of the world’s most new important telescopes—due to have “first light” later this year—is about to receive humanity’s most powerful ever camera.

Formerly known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, the Rubin Observatory has been constructed next to the famous Gemini South telescope on the Cerro Pachón ridge in Chile’s Elqui Valley.

Astronomical Movie

The largest camera ever built for astronomy, the 3.2-gigapixel Legacy Survey of Space and Time CCD camera will capture the night sky above the southern hemisphere 1,000 times each night in six wavelengths, from ultraviolet to near-infrared, totaling 15 terabytes. It will do that for a decade, essentially creating a 3D astronomical movie that will alert astronomers to real-time sky events. It can take an image in about two seconds and change filters in under 90 seconds.

It was built by the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California.

“We will soon start producing the greatest movie of all time and the most informative map of the night sky ever assembled,” said Director of Rubin Observatory Construction and University of Washington professor Željko Ivezić.

Some think that the Rubin Observatory will find a hundred thousand supernovas.

Transient Events

It’s hoped that by capturing changes in the night sky in exceptional detail, astronomers will find transient events such as supernovas and learn much more about dark matter and dark energy. It’s also likely to catalog 90% of near-Earth objects, such as asteroids, larger than 300 meters—and calculate if they are a threat to Earth. It will also locate 10,000 primitive objects in the Kuiper Belt—a remote region of the outer solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune.

The 6.5-meter-class optical telescope in front of the camera will survey the visible sky every week at a much fainter level than is possible right now. The camera is the same size as a small car, its lens is three feet wide, and it weighs 3,000 kilograms (three metric tons). It has 301 individual custom-designed CCD sensors with pixels just 10 microns wide.

Billions Of Stars

“Its images are so detailed that it could resolve a golf ball from around 15 miles away, while covering a swath of the sky seven times wider than the full moon,” said Aaron Roodman, SLAC professor and Rubin Observatory Deputy Director and Camera Program Lead. “These images with billions of stars and galaxies will help unlock the secrets of the universe.”

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes

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