The world’s largest digital camera has enough detail to capture a Moon dust particle

All its mechanical components are now together for the first time.
Nergis Firtina
The LSST Camera - the world’s largest digital camera.
The LSST Camera - the world’s largest digital camera

Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory 

Good news! The largest digital camera in the world is nearly ready to be mounted on its telescope.

At the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, technicians are finishing up the largest digital camera in the world. The camera will be shipped to Chile and mounted on a telescope located in the Andes. The project was started a couple of years ago.

Even though the camera isn't finished yet, all of its mechanical parts have now, for the first time, been assembled into a visually appealing framework.

The camera was set up so that visitors could see its amazing focus plane (which has 189 CCDs) through the camera's lenses; the staff at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory facilitated media trips to the clean room, according to the statement.

The SLAC team welcomed a total of 21 guests from 14 different media organizations in September, representing a variety of media interests, including local, national, science, print, radio, video, and TV.

The world’s largest digital camera has enough detail to capture a Moon dust particle
LSST camera.

The crew at SLAC is testing the camera shutter and the filter exchange system. Two dynamic components were also just installed when they were not responding to inquiries about the 3200-megapixel camera that will capture images for Rubin Observatory's 10-year Legacy Survey of Space and Time.

What is unique about the LSST camera?

The LSST Camera is a digital camera but is significantly larger. With the help of its 189 sensors, it can capture light coming from stars and other objects and turn it into electrical signals that can be translated into digital photos. The size of each sensor is around 16 millimeters, and it contains more pixels than an iPhone.

The camera has 3.2 gigapixels in total and can capture images with enough resolution to see a moon dust particle. With a diameter of 1.57 meters, its largest lens is the biggest of its kind ever created.

The LSST Camera project manager Vincent Riot says that the camera’s sensors were extremely expensive to make and any misalignments could easily damage them, so putting them together was like “parking Lamborghinis millimeters apart,” as per New Scientist.

The camera will have one last upgrade before the year is out: a modernized cooling system will be installed. The camera will then be finished and prepared for final testing before being shipped to Chile in May 2023.

More about LSST

"Large Synoptic Survey Telescope" (LSST) is an astronomical observatory currently under construction in Chile. Its main task will be carrying out a synoptic astronomical survey, the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

The observatory is located on the El Peñón peak of Cerro Pachón, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in the Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

The LSST Base Facility is located about 62 miles (100 km) away by road in the town of La Serena. The observatory is named for Vera Rubin, an American astronomer who pioneered discoveries about galaxy rotation rates.

Editor's note 10/14/22: The article's headline has been updated to avoid misleading.

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