The world’s largest digital camera, which will capture the widest images of the universe ever, has been officially unveiled by scientists.
New photos show the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), nearing completion at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California.
The 3,200-megapixel camera — powerful enough to spot a golf ball 25 kilometers away — is about the size of a small SUV, while the lens alone is more than five feet in diameter.
Once done, it is will take digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from the Rubin Observatory, atop a mountain in Chile called Cerro Pachon.
It will provide a broad, deep and rapid view of the night sky, cataloging the largest number of stars and galaxies ever observed.
The world’s largest camera with a five-foot lens and a 3,200-megapixel camera has been unveiled ahead of launch next year
Visitors to SLC were able to see the impressive focal plane — which contains 189 electronic circuits known as CCDs — through the camera’s lenses.
Once finished, it will take digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from the Rubin Observatory, atop a mountain in Chile.
LSST CAMERA SPECIFICATIONS
3200 megapixels (3.2 billion pixels)
189 individual sensors
2 feet wide focal plane
Lens dimensions: about 1.65 m by 9.8 feet (3 m)
Weight: 6200 lb (2800 kg)
Operational: mid 2021
Although the camera is not yet complete, all the mechanical parts are now together.
SLAC invited photographers to the cleanroom of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory where the camera can see the huge ‘photogenic structure’ for the first time.
“The Rubin Observatory LSST camera is the largest digital camera ever built,” says the camera’s website.
“At about 1.65 meters by 9.8 feet (3 meters), it is about the size of a small car and weighs almost 2800 kg.”
Visitors to SLC were able to see the impressive focal plane — which contains 189 sensors known as CCDs — through the camera’s lenses. Each CCD contains more pixels than a single iPhone.
The focal plane of this camera is comparable to the image sensor of a consumer digital camera or the camera in a smartphone.
It captures light emitted from or reflected by an object and converts it into electrical signals that are used to produce a digital image.
However, this focal plane is more than 60 cm wide and contains 189 separate sensors that together produce images of 3,200 megapixels.
The Rubin Observatory LSST Camera is the largest digital camera ever built. At about 1.65 meters by 9.8 feet (3 meters), it is about the size of a small car
Before the end of the year, the camera will undergo one last change: the installation of a renewed cooling system
Two feet is huge compared to the 1.4-inch-wide image sensor of a full-frame consumer camera, and big enough to capture a portion of the sky the size of 40 full moons, or spot a golf ball in a image from 15 miles away.
Upon completion, image sensors in the camera should be able to detect objects 100 million times fainter than those visible to the naked eye — a sensitivity that would allow people to see a candle thousands of miles away.
Before the end of the year, the camera will undergo one last change: the installation of a renewed cooling system.
At that point, the camera will be complete and ready for final testing before shipping to Chile in May 2023 and becoming fully operational the following year.
The telescope will be equipped with a 3,200-megapixel camera – a powerful instrument that would require 1,500 high-definition screens to display just one of its images.
After installing an updated cooling system, the camera is complete and ready for final testing before shipping to Chile in May 2023 and becoming fully operational the following year.
Using LSST, the Rubin Observatory will make the greatest astronomical film of all time and shed light on some of the universe’s greatest mysteries, including dark matter and dark energy.
“This achievement is one of the most important of the entire Rubin Observatory Project,” Steven Kahn, SLAC’s director of the observatory, said earlier.
“The completion of the LSST Camera focal plane and its successful testing is a huge camera team victory that will enable Rubin Observatory to deliver the next generation of astronomical science.”
RUBIN OBSERVATORY WILL PRODUCE THE WIDEEST IMAGES OF THE UNIVERSE
The observer will sit atop Cerro Pachón in Chile at nearly 8,700 feet, where the observation conditions are optimal
Vera C. Rubin Observatory, which began construction in 2015, is an astronomical observatory currently under construction in Chile.
The goal of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory project is to conduct the 10-year Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).
LSST will provide a 500 petabyte set of images and data products that will answer some of the most pressing questions about the structure and evolution of the universe and the objects within it.
It is intended to conduct a deep survey over a vast region of the sky, at a frequency that allows the acquisition of images of every part of the visible sky every few nights.
It will continue in this mode for 10 years to get “astronomical catalogs” thousands of times larger than ever before.
It will consist of a 27-foot (8.4 m) mirror, the width of a single tennis court, and a 3,200-megapixel camera.
The focal plane is large enough to capture a portion of the sky the size of 40 full moons.
Vera C. Rubin Observatory will generate 20 terabytes of data every night.