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The world's largest digital camera is ready to investigate the dark universe

The world's largest digital camera is ready to investigate the dark universe

That's right, the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Camera is now finished and promises some great insights.

The biggest digital camera ever made has finally been completed, and will now be transported to an observatory to start monitoring the universe.

The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Camera has taken a while to build, which is no surprise given how completely ambitious it is - it boasts 3,200 megapixels and weighs an astonishing 3,000 kilograms.

Amazingly, when you compare it to many pieces of observatory technology and some space telescopes, it actually looks like a giant camera, too, instead of just an anonymous assembly of random computer parts jammed together.

The world's largest digital camera is now ready.
G. Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The LSST camera is now going to set out on its way to the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, where it will begin a 10-year project to create the most accurate map of the universe we've ever built.

As the Director of Rubin Observatory Construction and University of Washington professor Željko Ivezić said in a statement: "With the completion of the unique LSST Camera at SLAC and its imminent integration with the rest of Rubin Observatory systems in Chile, we will soon start producing the greatest movie of all time and the most informative map of the night sky ever assembled".

It's a super exciting plan and could reveal some truly surprising secrets - ones we can't predict, since that wouldn't be much of a secret in the first place.

The LSST camera.
C. Smith/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The camera is a technical marvel, and the images it produces are almost hard to comprehend, such is their level of detail. At their native resolution, it would take 378 4K televisions all arranged in a huge grid to accurately showcase all their pixels without compression.

That would be quite a sight, one that's likely never to happen, but with cinema screens and ultra-HD projections, you never know what the images it offers up could look like down the line.

There are two main lenses in the LSST camera - one that's five feet across, and the other that's three feet wide - both custom-made for this exact purpose.

The second, smaller lens seals the camera's focal plane in a vacuum, where 201 CCD sensors come together on an almost impossibly flat plane to capture those all-important images.

To give a bit of context as to how impressive this technology is, there's a great explanation offered up by SLAC professor and Rubin Observatory Deputy Director and Camera Program Lead Aaron Roodman. He said: "Its images are so detailed that it could resolve a golf ball from around 25 kilometers (15 miles) away, while covering a swath of the sky seven times wider than the full Moon. These images, with billions of stars and galaxies, will help unlock the secrets of the Universe".

Those are lofty promises, and we'll have to wait for a few years to see how things go, but this is a very exciting development.