The Skyhawk View

October 2020 Volume 8, Issue 1

Issue Table of Contents

Seeing Space through a different lens

By Jessica Payne

     On September 8th the sensors for California’s Stanford Linear Accelerator Center’s LSST (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) took their first picture. This is the first step in a stunning advancement in space exportation.

     The camera is part of a much larger structure that will be transported to the Vera C Rubin Observatory in Chile where it will survey the skies for 10 years. The camera has a resolution of 3,200 megapixels which means it would take 378 4K high definition TV screens to properly view the images.

     Sauk Valley Community College professor James Chisholm commented, “There are multiple reasons why Sauk Students should care about this, ranging from the pure love of science, expanding knowledge of the cosmos and getting cool pictures of space.”

     “If a giant rock is going to hit the Earth and cause the human race to go extinct, maybe I need to get on one of those planned missions to Mars soon.”

     In fact, the camera will be greatly helpful in detecting objects that could affect earth. The resolution is so high a golf ball can be seen from 15 miles away. 

     This camera will be used to take a panorama of the sky every few nights for a span of 10 years and the data collected from this will allow scientists to study an array of things, from dark matter to the structure of our galaxy.

     When the camera is assembled in its entirety it will be the size of a small car, with a focal plane approximately 5.5 ft in diameter. It will also have a weight of just over 3 tons.