The 3,200-megapixel camera that will take photos of space

Technology News

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction in Cerro Pachón (Chile) will have the largest chamber in the world dedicated to astronomy. Specifically, a set of lenses with a main sensor of more than 8.2 meters in size capable of capturing 3,200 megapixel images .

The sensors (a total of 189), which at the moment have not been installed, have already taken 3,200 megapixel digital photos. As explained in a press release , 378 4K screens would be necessary to reproduce the image at its full size.

The sensors were assembled in groups of nine, in what is known as ‘raft’ (a total of 21, plus an additional four not related to image capture) on a grid that supports them.

This process took more than six months, because to maximize the image area, the space between them must be less than what five hairs would occupy. To make matters worse, the sensors are easily broken if they touch each other and each of these ‘rafts’ costs three million dollars .

The chamber measures 3.73 meters wide, 1.65 meters high and weighs 2,800 kilos . The focal plane has an area capable of capturing a portion of the sky the size of about 40 full moons. With its resolution this means that a golf ball could be seen from more than 25 kilometers away.

Jacqueline Orrell / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
This equipment will be installed in the Chilean observatory, where it will be able to create panoramic images of the southern sky. Every few nights for the next ten years it will create one of these panoramas, for a total of 15 terabytes (15,000 GB) of data per night . To do this, it will take photos of 15 seconds of exposure every 20 seconds.

All this information will be added to the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), a catalog that will have, as they explain, more galaxies than people living on Earth (approximately 37,000 million galaxies and stars, according to published data).

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