The LSST camera will be the largest digital camera ever constructed. Its size of roughly five feet by 10 feet is similar to that of a small car and it will weigh over three tons. It is a large-aperture, wide-field optical imager designed to provide a 3.5° field of view with better than 0.2 arcsecond sampling. The image surface is flat with a diameter of just over two feet. The detector format will be a mosaic of 16 megapixel silicon detectors providing a total of approximately 3.2 billion pixels. Credit: Image Courtesy of the LSST Corporation
A digital rendering of the LSST instrument, with human figures for scale. (Image courtesy LSST Corporation/NOAO)
Perched high atop Cerro Pachón in the Chilean Andes, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will take the largest, fastest, most detailed pictures of the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky. With these images, researchers around the world will seek to reveal the nature of dark matter and dark energy—and to answer a host of other questions in astronomy and physics.
To do all this, LSST needs the largest digital camera ever built: a 3.2 billion-pixel behemoth that stands 6 feet tall and weighs more than 6000 pounds. Now, this impressive instrument has taken a significant step toward reality by receiving the Department of Energy’s “Critical Decision 1” approval.
A large primary mirror, the world’s largest digital camera, images that cover 49 times the area of the Moon in a single exposure, the largest public data set in the world—LSST takes advantage of new technologies to provide a qualitatively new capability for astronomy.
A color movie of the universe.
A view of the whole visible southern sky and its changes over ten years.
Orbits of asteroids as small as 100 meters that might impact the Earth, properties of the dark energy that powers the accelerating expansion of the universe, 3-D mass maps of dark matter, how the Milky Way formed, the nature of rare, explosive events—all will be products of the LSST survey.
Work on the telescope and its Chilean site are underway.