New LSST Telescope Promises Incredible Photos of the Night Sky


Space better get ready for its close up! The U.S. Department of Energy gave its final approval to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to begin procuring components for its $168 million, 3.2-GP CCD telescope camera. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is due to be completed in 2022 and will have an amazing impact cataloging stars and galaxies.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope definitely lives up to its name. The entire telescope is being created by an international collaboration of universities and labs including SLAC, Brookhaven, and Lawrence Livermore. The telescope’s camera once finished will be the size of a small car, and weigh more than 3 tons. That portion of the telescope alone will take 5 years to build, but its results will be absolutely stunning.

As you might expect the pictures taken by this camera will be incredible. The telescope camera will regularly take images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from its location on top of mountain Cerro Pachón in Chile. The captured images will produce a wide, deep and fast survey of the night sky while simultaneously cataloging the largest number of stars and galaxies ever observed. In fact, just the image resolution from just one snapshot by the LSST will be so high it would take 1500 high-definition television screens to display just ONE image.

In addition to its incredible image quality, the camera will also be capable of viewing light from near-ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths giving astronomers the ability to see the light “echoes” of heavenly bodies very far away. It will also provide hitherto unobtainable information regarding the formation of galaxies, tracking potentially hazardous asteroids, observe exploding stars, and assist astronomers in gaining a deeper understanding of dark matter and dark energy. This is extremely significant as dark matter, and dark energy makes up around 95% of the universe, but their natures remain largely unknown.

Once the LSST is operational it will generate a public archive of nearly 6 million gigabytes per year, which means on top of building the LSST, SLAC will also be constructing a database to handle this huge amount of data. 2022 promises to be an extremely promising and exciting year for all space and star aficionados with the LSST giving all an incredible new glimpse into the goings on in the night sky.

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