“Nearing completion of the camera is very exciting, and we are proud of playing such a central role in building this key component of Rubin Observatory,” says Joanne Hewett, SLAC’s chief research officer and associate lab director for fundamental physics.
Crews at the Department of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, have successfully tested its digital camera that is proficient in taking huge 3,200-megapixel photos. The camera’s focal plane is similar to an imaging sensor in a digital camera, includes 189 sensors that provide 16 megapixels each. And it’s more than 2 feet wide, compared to the normal 1.4 inch– wide sensor in digital full-frame cameras.
Legacy Survey of Space and Time camera
The world’s largest and most powerful digital camera has been in the works since 2015. The product is the centerpiece of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory currently under Chile, which will spend 10 years gathering the widest, fastest, and deepest views of the night sky ever taken.
Once the project reaches its climax, the camera will head towards an examination in the Rubin Observatory, Chile, where it will take panoramic images of the complete southern sky for a decade. The data from this venture will feed into the Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). LSST has a catalog containing more galaxies than human beings on the Earth.
Each raft cost about $3 million each…
The focal plane took six months to assemble. Each grid of nine sensors called scientific rafts (25 of them) had to be fitted into their spots along the grid. These sensors can easily crack if they come in contact with each other, as the gaps between the rafts are less than five human hairs wide. Astoundingly, each raft cost about $3 million each. This frames why the team spent a year preparing before installing rafts. Also, the Coronavirus debacle kept the team from accessing the lab to take the first images using the focal plane in May.
First and foremost images
Therefore the team was able to use a 150-micron pinhole that acted as a projector for the focal plane to take first pictures. The micron pinhole clicked initial images and they include the head of the broccoli, the Flammarion engraving, and a collage of the camera team.
How the camera will appear after the release?
The digital camera will be gigantic, about the size of an SUV. The LSST camera’s focal plane has a surface area large enough to capture a portion of the sky about the size of 40 full moons. Its resolution is so soaring that viewers can spot a golf ball from 15 miles away. Over the coming decade, this digital camera is anticipated to capture images of about 20 billion galaxies and help scientists understand how galaxies have changed over time. Another key highlight of the camera is that it will help scientists test models of dark matter and dark energy. The ultra-sensitive telescope is capable of spotting objects 100 million times dimmer than what can be seen with the naked eye.
The Super Camera is expected to arrive by mid-2021. The LSST camera is waiting to integrate lenses, a shutter, and a filter exchange system into it. Besides, the camera will have the world’s largest optical lens. The special optical lens will include, the primary lens (1.57) meters (5.1 feet) in diameter, the secondary lens has a diameter of 1.2 meters, and the third lens is 72 centimeters in diameter.
The camera is massive, so is its cost…
The camera is massive, so is its cost. The LSST camera is destined to assemble in a hefty $168 million, according to the telescope’s designer, the US government’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Joanne Hewett adds, “It is a milestone that brings us a big step closer to exploring fundamental questions about the universe in ways we haven’t been able to before.”