The largest digital camera in the world is ready to change astronomy

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Like the family camcorder, the largest digital camera in the world will capture the next 10 years of cosmic life in memorable detail.
In mid-May, the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Digital Camera, now officially called the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, will travel from its current home in California to Cerro Pachón, a mountain in northern Chile.
The camera, the team behind it purports, will take the greatest movie of all time.
Ivezić is optimistic the LSST Camera will discover five million asteroids, and see about 20 billion stars in our galaxy, plus about 20 billion galaxies.
The idea of a massive digital camera isn’t revolutionary.
LSST Camera will hone in on a section of the southern night sky, about 45 times larger than the size of the Full Moon, for 30 seconds.
A truck carrying the camera will sojourn out of the capital into the Andean highlands.
“They would get money back, but there is no place to go to buy a new camera,” Ivezić says.


Similar to the family camcorder, the world’s largest digital camera is set to record the next ten years of cosmic life in breathtaking detail.

The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Digital Camera, officially known as the Vera C, was unveiled in the middle of May. Traveling from its current location in California to Cerro Pachón, a mountain in northern Chile, is the Rubin Observatory.

The people behind it claim that the camera will capture the greatest film ever made. About January 2025, observations will start.

Fans of the trilogy should take note: it would take a year to watch every video clip back-to-back, as each one contains ten years’ worth of observations of a single section of the southern sky. Željko Ivezić, the director of construction at Rubin Observatory, tells Inverse that this is also without sleep.

Our celestial family will be captured on camera. This includes the distant branches of our celestial family tree, distant cousin asteroids, sporadic guests like comets, and the Sun’s stellar community whizzing around the Milky Way’s center and beyond the galaxy. Ivezić is hopeful that the LSST Camera will find five million asteroids and observe roughly 20 billion stars in our galaxy in addition to roughly 20 billion galaxies.

There are numerous dynamics at work when we visualize the universe and how it changes at different distances. Other missions like Euclid and Gaia that survey the night sky will benefit from the camera’s work. The research findings have the potential to shed light on new transient phenomena such as variable stars and supernovas, increase our understanding of whether or not Albert Einstein was correct when he developed his theory of general relativity, and increase our knowledge of asteroids by five times.

The concept of a large digital camera is not novel. But it’s the technology. For a mere $30 million, the University of Arizona manufactured the three mirrors, which are the most important part of the camera. Before contemporary manufacturing advancements, the mirrors would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Ivezić. Due to the camera’s field of view, 3,200 megapixels needed to be stored and processed by computers. Prior to recently, this was not achievable.

LSST Camera will focus for 30 seconds on an area of the southern night sky that is roughly 45 times larger than the full moon. It quickly moves on to the following slice of space, 9.6 square degrees, and repeats. The entire night sky is captured on film in three nights in this manner. It takes roughly three weeks to view the southern sky in its entirety through each of the six color filters on its carousel. The camera begins again at the end of the round. For ten years, this will not end.

Each segment’s exposure time is extended by the repetition. As a result, the pictures are more perceptive of fainter objects. The multiple exposures show a mediocre appearance. The team hopes to find intruders like comets and asteroids in this way.

More times will reveal the subtle movements of the stars in relation to the Sun. Star motions appear more erratic than they actually are. As Ivezić puts it, “Those motions are actually faster than the motion of Earth around the Sun.”. Even though the stars appear to be moving more slowly in pictures because they are thousands of times further away, the relative speed between them is actually higher. “.

The LSST Camera will measure galaxy properties for astronomers. They can be distinguished by their colors. Because extremely massive structures bend light, distortion to their shapes would suggest gravitational lensing. Their locations would refine theories regarding the long-term distribution of galaxies. Less mystery could also surround the universe’s expansion.

A difficult journey is about to begin for the SUV-sized camera. La Serena, Chile can receive the Boeing 747 that is scheduled to transport it across the Americas. But from this tiny airport, it cannot take off. The large aircraft will therefore need to land in Santiago, which is farther away from the observatory site. The camera will take a detour from the capital city into the Andean highlands on a truck. It will only travel a few miles per hour once it gets to the road that leads to the 8,900-foot-high summit of Cerro Pachón.

It would be an understatement to say that the cargo is valuable. Insurance will cover it, but the team hopes to never have to cash in. “Ivezić says that although they would receive their money back, they would not be able to purchase a new camera.”.

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