Just in time for the Christmas season, Hawaii will get to turn on one of four new asteroid (and Santa) tracking telescopes, which can scan large swaths of the sky quickly and clearly thanks to a 1.4-billion pixel digital camera with image stabilisation. The first prototype of the project, known as Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), will take pictures three times a month of as much of space as it can see from the peak of Mount Haleakala in Maui. It'll be used as Earth's first defence against Armageddon-like planet-rocking meteors.
The Pan-STARRS cameras, designed to have a tleast three times the collecting power of current telescopes, each consist of a 40cm squared array of charge-coupled devices (CCD). Each CCD cell can electronically shift an image to counteract atmospheric blur, delivering crystal sharp pictures of the skies above. While nobody's completely sure how to stop the asteroids once we spot them (though there's been a few theories floated around), at least we'll be able to see our imminent doom coming... in high res! [Technology Review]