The Largest Digital Camera Ever Built Will Soon Capture the Deep Universe

The project will image half of the southern sky every three days.
Loukia Papadopoulos

The world's largest digital camera is getting ready to be installed at the Vera Rubin Observatory on a Chilean mountaintop. Once completed the project will image half of the southern sky every three days peering into the elusive deep universe. 

"The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) is a planned 10-year survey of the southern sky that will take place at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction on the El Penon peak of Cerro Pachon in northern Chile. The survey data will enable researchers around the world to better evaluate a wide range of pressing questions about the attributes of dark energy and dark matter, the formation of the Milky Way, the properties of small bodies in the solar system, the trajectories of potentially hazardous asteroids and the possible existence of undiscovered explosive phenomena," reads a statement from Stanford University.

The LSST is 3.2-gigapixel (3.2 billion pixel) camera that will be able to look very far into the distance (and therefore the past) in the sky and image a much wider region than ever before. The portraits taken weekly by the LSST will form the Legacy Survey of Space and Time, a 10 year project to uncover what our many faraway universes have hidden up to now.

The LSST camera is composed of six rotating optical filters that can be switched in and out according to what the astronomers are trying to capture and the light conditions on a given night. The filters provide the opportunity to image the sky in six different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The LSST will survey as much of the sky as possible and track how it changes to understand both the nature of distant galaxies and the events of our past history. It will also keep an eye on near-Earth asteroids making sure they don't collide with our planet.

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