Space camera
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

Work is almost finished in California on the world’s largest digital camera, the key component of the new Vera C. Rubin Observatory currently under construction atop a mountain in northern Chile.

Scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory near San Francisco, California are finalising assembly of the world’s largest digital camera – a project seven years in the making.

The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) camera is the size of a small car, weighing about 2.7 tonnes, and has a 1.65m diameter lens. It features a 3,200 megapixel sensor – powerful enough to see a golf ball 24km away.

The giant device, capable of detecting near-ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light, will be the workhorse of the new Vera C. Rubin Observatory (formerly known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope), which has been under construction at the summit of Cerro Pachón in northern Chile for almost 20 years.

Its initial mission will be to spend 10 years mapping the entire southern night sky, helping scientists discover 17 billion new stars, as well as 6 million new objects in our solar system.

Once the project is complete in 2034, the LSST camera will have created a 3D movie of the heavens enabling us to study the movements of celestial objects on a timescale that hasn’t been accessible before.

It is hoped the new data will help scientists to understand what the universe is made of and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

The LSST deep-sky movie camera is due to be flown to Chile for installation in May 2023.