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Scientists at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are building the world's largest digital camera for astronomy and astrophysics—a minivan-sized 3,200-megapixel "eye" of the future Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) that will enable unprecedented views of the universe starting in the fall of 2022 and provide new insights into dark energy and other cosmic mysteries. In the meantime, the lab has completed its work on a miniature version that will soon be used for testing the telescope and taking LSST's first images of the night sky.
These images will include glimpses of the motions of asteroids and objects in our solar system with orbits beyond that of Neptune, as well as alerts of sudden events such as supernovae, exploding stars that temporarily light up parts of the sky.
Device - ComCam - Commissioning - Camera - Percent
The device, called ComCam (short for Commissioning Camera), will use only four percent of the full LSST camera's focal plane and produce much smaller images, but it will provide enough "imaging power" to test the observatory while its ultimate camera is still under construction. In fact, ComCam's 144 megapixels outnumber the pixel count that was available to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a pioneering astrophysical survey project in the early 2000s.
"ComCam will give us a great head start in checking all of the interfaces between the camera, telescope, site infrastructure and data management," says Kevin Reil, LSST commissioning scientist and SLAC staff scientist.
Integration - Sensors - ComCam - Tasks - SLAC
After completing the integration of imaging sensors into ComCam and other tasks, the SLAC team today shipped the device to LSST headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. There, more components will be added before the finished ComCam is sent to its final destination in Chile later this year.
The extraordinarily high image quality of the full LSST camera will be largely due to its 189 state-of-the-art imaging sensors. Arranged into square arrays, called...
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