We all love Hubble pictures.

We all love Hubble pictures. Hubble’s so-called “wide field camera” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Field_Camera_3) takes pictures that are 0.002 square degrees on the sky with very long exposures (hours) to reveal fine details of ultra-dim objects. The LSST is pretty much the opposite. It takes repeated 30-second pictures that cover 10 square degrees each at much lower resolution than Hubble. By taking these huge pictures all night, the LSST can monitor vast numbers of objects, looking for variability and motion.

On the technological side, astronomy gives us a preview of what we’ll see in in mainstream imaging many years in advance. My own research used a 16-megapixel camera back in the 1990s. Sensors that size are now appearing in phones today. I’ll bet we’ll see gigapixel cameras used in sports in not too many years — imagine capturing video the whole field and doing extreme closeup replays on the ball all with a single camera, using all-digital panning and zooming.

Oh, and 30 terabytes of data to process each night? That sounds like a challenging software project.

Originally shared by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

This 3.2-gigapixel digital camera — the size of a small car and weighing more than three tons — will capture full-sky images at such high resolution that it would take 1,500 high-definition television screens to display just one picture. And research scientists aren’t the only ones who will have access to the data. Anyone with a computer will be able to fly through the universe, past objects a hundred million times fainter than can be observed with the unaided eye.


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