The LSST Camera

The measure of: the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera

Image credit: Cover Images

Say hello to the world’s largest digital camera, the LSST Camera, which is roughly the size of a small car and has as many pixels as the equivalent of 266 iPhone 13s.

Standing at 1.65m tall, the LSST Camera was unveiled at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California in October and will help astronomers study billions of galaxies.

Seven years in the making, the camera weighs up to three tonnes and features a 3,200-megapixel sensor, powerful enough to spot a golf ball 15 miles away, according to its developers.

At the end of 2024, its developers will install the camera at the Vera C Rubin Observatory at the summit of Cerro Pachón in Chile. In its home in the Andes mountains, it will catalogue about 20 billion galaxies over the next 10 years as part of a project called the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

The LSST Camera

Image credit: Cover Images

The dozens of terabytes of data that the LSST Camera will collect every night will advance our knowledge of the universe, helping researchers unpack the nature of mysterious dark matter and better understand how galaxies are formed, the astronomers said. Theoretically, it should be able to capture billions of galaxies with its 189 sensors over the course of the next 10 years.

By collecting data on the shapes, colours and whereabouts of objects in space, images taken by the LSST every 15 seconds will allow researchers to monitor near-Earth asteroids and offer them the potential to discover entirely new cosmos phenomena.

According to the astronomers, the camera is also able to record the time evolution of these sources, creating potentially the first ever motion picture of our universe.

Vital statistics: the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera

Length: 3.73m 

Height: 1.65m 

Weight: 2,800kg

Pixel count: 3,200-megapixel (3.2 gigapixels) 

Wavelength range: 320–1,050nm

189 charge-coupled device sensors arranged in a total of 21 3x3 square arrays mounted on platforms called rafts

64cm-wide focal plane

3.5-degree field of view

Diameter of its largest lens: 1.57m 

15-second exposure every 20 seconds

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