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

A revolutionary telescope will come online in 2025. And there will be a huge camera installed on top of it which is designed to capture extraordinary views of space.

The United States' SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is preparing a more than 5.5-foot-tall, 6,200-pound (1.65 m and 2,800 kg) LSST camera that will snap cosmic images at the highly anticipated Vera C. Rubin Observatory. High Chilean mountains. The lab posted new images online, showing the more than 12-foot-long (3.7 meters) camera with its gorgeous lens in a clean room.

“About the size of a small SUV, the LSST [Legacy Survey of Space and Time] The camera is the largest camera ever built for astronomy,” the lab said.

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Engineers will mount the large camera on the observatory's 27.5-foot-wide (8.4 m) Simoni Survey Telescope, a revolutionary instrument in itself: It will fastest Largest telescope on Earth, capable of rotating 180 degrees in just 20 seconds.

The goal is to create an unprecedented catalog of the universe. “This will be the first time any telescope has cataloged more galaxies than those present on Earth,” the laboratory reported. Every 20 seconds, the giant digital camera will capture a 15-second exposure. The camera is so large that each image covers an area 40 times the area of ​​the full moon.

View of the LSST camera with scientists in the foreground for perspective.

mashable light speed

The SLAC team that built the LSST camera poses in front of the instrument in a clean room in Menlo Park, California.

The SLAC team that built the LSST camera poses in front of the instrument in a clean room in Menlo Park, California.
Credit: Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Graphic showing the size of the LSST camera.

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

The giant telescope, with its massive camera, will give astronomers globally unprecedented ability to quickly examine objects in our Solar System, the Milky Way galaxy and beyond.

“I think we're building a 'crawler and Google search' for the sky,” Mario Juric, a University of Washington professor working on the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, told Mashable in 2023. With a large telescope (which can sometimes take months to propose, approve, and execute), a scientist will be able to go to a website, run a query, and get data in seconds. “Huge improvements in efficiency and democratization of access to the best possible datasets.”

How will the telescope change our understanding of space?

– Over the past few centuries, astronomers and space agencies like NASA have found about 1.2 million asteroids in our solar system. After three to six months of observation, Rubin would double this number. In 10 years, 5 million asteroids will be known, Juric said.

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

– There are two known interstellar comets today. Reuben will identify 10 to 50 times more.

– “And – If 'Planet Planet X is a hypothetical world in our solar system that may exist beyond the orbit of Pluto.

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory isn't the only giant, futuristic telescope set to soon begin surveying the night sky. The Giant Magellan Telescope, which researches the evolution of the universe and the nature of planets beyond our solar system (exoplanets), will come online in late 2020. 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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