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The Largest Digital Camera Ever Made is Prepared to Explore the Dark Cosmos

The ten-year Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory will shortly start, surveying the entire sky thousands of times across the southern hemisphere. A camera of comparable size is needed for a mission of size.

Fortunately, that is exactly what SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has to provide. The LSST camera, the largest digital camera ever constructed, has been formally finished by scientists and engineers at SLAC for Rubin’s groundbreaking 10-year survey.

The 3,200-megapixel LSST camera is roughly half the weight of a male African bush elephant and is about the size of a compact automobile. It weighs 3 metric tons. With its wide-field vision, the LSST will try to resolve unanswered questions about dark energy, the force responsible for around 70% of the matter-energy content of our universe and the acceleration of cosmic expansion.

Along the way, the LSST will create what Željko Ivezić, Director of Rubin Observatory’s construction, calls the “greatest movie of all time and the most informative map of the night sky ever assembled.” It will also answer other astronomical questions and investigate dark matter, the mysterious substance that accounts for about 85% of all stuff in the cosmos despite being invisible to us.

“The data collected by the LSST camera and Rubin will be really groundbreaking. It will enable really incisive studies of the expansion of the universe and dark energy,” said Aaron Roodman, SLAC professor, Rubin Observatory Deputy Director, and Camera Program Lead, to”The LSST survey will allow us to see billions of galaxies, an estimated 17 billion stars in our own galaxy, the Milky Way and millions of solar system objects.”

“We’re not going to be looking at individual objects. We’re going to look at everything that’s available in the night sky from our mountaintop location in Chile.”

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