Engineers in the United States are on the verge of completing what will officially be the world’s giant digital camera. Seven years in the making, weighing three tons, about the size of a car and equipped with a 3,200-megapixel sensor, the camera was unveiled by the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and will also help analyze thousands of millions of galaxies still unknown. The nearly two-meter-tall camera is expected to complete its final modifications before the end of the year and be installed at the Rubin Observatory in Chile on Cerro Pachón for launch by the end of 2024.
What does it mean to make the world’s giant camera?
Well, it’s a 1.5-meter lens, a 60cm focal length lens and cooling technology. This cooling technology cools the camera to -100°C to reduce noise during operation. The cooling technology upgrade will be the last modification to the camera before it is shipped to Chile.
To put focal length in perspective, the standard frame size for a consumer camera is around 3.5 centimeters. The giant camera at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory contains 3.2 billion pixels every 10 microns. This allows the camera to produce the highest resolution images and detect objects 100 million times darker than seen.
What is the purpose of the camera?
For the next ten years, the camera will be based in Chile at the Rubin Observatory and will monitor the southern sky, capturing panoramic images every few nights. A primary goal of the project is to understand dark energy and darkness better. Dark energy is the force thought to be accelerating the rate at which the universe is expanding, but it remains a mystery to experts in the field. On the other hand, dark matter is the material thought to make up about 85 percent of the material in our universe. The camera will also help astronomers see parts of the universe that science has yet to discover. Theoretically, it should be able to detect billions of galaxies with its 189 sensors in the next ten years.