So just how much can a digital camera the size of a Hyundai see? Hopefully, if you’re the Stanford team building it, enough to answer some fundamental questions about our galaxy.
It will be the world’s largest digital camera by a good margin, built by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope — a large aperture survey telescope designed to find and photograph faint astronomical objects from its perch high atop a Chilean mountain. Specifically, the LSST will investigate astronomical phenomena including dark energy, dark matter, and near-Earth asteroids, as well as inventory the solar system and explore the transient optical sky.
The features and specs of the new LSST surpass any current telescope, either land-based or orbital. Its 8.4m diameter mirror will be able to scan large swaths of the night sky while generating 3D maps via 800 15-second exposures every session — nearly 50 times as much area as the moon takes up in the sky. The LSST’s 3.2-gigapixel camera will consist of 189 CCD ultraviolet, visible and infrared light-sensitive sensors, cost roughly $US170 million, and have enough resolution to spot your car’s headlights at a distance of 640km. [Stanford, Peta Pixel, R&D Magazine, Roger Galbraith]
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