Scientists unveil an SUV-sized camera that will change our understanding of space

Scientists unveil an SUV-sized camera that will change our understanding of space

A revolutionary telescope will be launched in 2025. It will be installed with a giant camera designed to capture unusual views of space.

The US National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) is working on finishing the more than 5.5-foot-tall, 6,200-pound (1.65-meter, 2,800-kilogram) LSST camera, which will capture cosmic images at the long-awaited Vera C. Rubin Observatory located in Chile’s majestic mountains. The lab posted new photos online showing the more than 12-foot (3.7-meter) camera, with its imposing lens, in a clean room.

“The size of a small SUV, the LSST (Legacy Survey of Space and Time) camera is the largest camera ever designed for astronomy,” the laboratory said.

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Engineers will mount the large camera on the 27.5-foot-wide (8.4-meter) Simonyon survey telescope, itself a revolutionary instrument: The fastest A large telescope on Earth, with the ability to rotate 180 degrees in just 20 seconds.

The goal is to create an unprecedented catalog of the universe. The laboratory explained that this will be “the first time that the telescope has cataloged more galaxies than there are humans on Earth.” Every 20 seconds, the giant digital camera takes a 15-second exposure. The camera is so large that each image covers an area of ​​the sky 40 times larger than the full moon.

Look at the LSST camera, with scientists in the foreground for perspective.

Speed ​​of light mashable

The SLAC team is building an LSST camera in front of the device in a clean room in Menlo Park, California.

The SLAC team is building an LSST camera in front of the device in a clean room in Menlo Park, California.
Credit: Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Drawing showing the size of the LSST camera.

Drawing showing the size of the LSST camera.
Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The giant telescope, with its huge camera, will give astronomers around the world an unprecedented ability to quickly investigate objects in our solar system, the Milky Way, and far beyond.

“I think we’re building the crawler and googling the sky,” Mario Jurek, a University of Washington professor who works at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, told Mashable in 2023. “Now, instead of going to a large telescope (which can sometimes take months to propose, approve, and implement), a scientist will be able to go to a website, make a query, and access the data in seconds. Access the best data sets possible.”

How the telescope will change our understanding of space

Over the past two centuries, astronomers and space agencies like NASA have discovered about 1.2 million asteroids in our solar system. After three to six months of monitoring, Robin will double that number. Jurek said that within 10 years, 5 million asteroids will be discovered.

– The number of icy worlds outside the distant planet Neptune (“trans-Neptunian objects” and dwarf planets) will increase by about tenfold.

There are two types of interstellar comets known today. Robin will specify between 10 and 50 times more.

“And – in the case of Planet Planet X is a speculative world in our solar system, and may exist beyond the orbit of Pluto.

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory isn’t the only massive future telescope that will soon begin scanning the night sky. The Giant Magellan Telescope, which investigates the evolution of the universe and the nature of planets outside our solar system (exoplanets), became available for use in the late 2020s. The Extremely Large Telescope, with a mirror 128 feet wide, will become the largest optical telescope on Earth later this decade.

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