Scientists from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory produced the world’s first 3,200-megapixel digital images. The images were snapped by a massive digital camera reserved for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, what an early demonstration of the enormous potential of this facility.
A picture containing 3.2 billion pixels is hard to imagine. ATI will need 378 4K ultra-high definition televisions to display one at its full resolution, according to a SLAC press release.
Wow Now imagine this power applied to astronomy. Fortunately, that is exactly the plan, as the size of the SUV camera used to produce these images will later be installed at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, which is also under construction.
When Rubin launches (hopefully next year or two), the 3,200-megapixel digital camera, or more simply, the world’s first 3.2-gigapixel camera, will capture a series of panoramic images of whole southern sky, where it will do once every few days for 10 years. This project, known as Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), will track the movements of billions of stars and galaxies, while creating largest astronomical film in the world. The observatory of this next gen is ready to give new light to the formation of the universe, dark matter, and dark energy.
New images, which can be seen here, was created as a test of the newly completed focus plane of the system, which serves as the “eye” of the camera. To capture these images, the team used a 150-micron pinhole to project images into the focal plane. In the experiments, SLAC researchers described a variety of objects, including a romanesco head — a type of broccoli with a highly detailed surface. Interestingly, the focal plane needs to be cooled to a cryostat chamber and lowered to -150 degrees Fahrenheit for it to function properly.
The focal plane, which measures more than 2 feet in diameter (0.6 meters), contains 189 individual sensors, or charge-coupled devices, each of which receives 16-megapixel images. Each light-gathering pixel is 10 microns wide—small, yes, but 10 times larger than the pixels on a typical camera phone (for reference, the average human hair is 50 microns wide). The focal plane is also extremely flat, measuring around ten times the width of a human hair, allowing for unique crisp, sharp images. Multiple sets of nine devices accompanied by charge is built into the squarenicknamed “rafts, ”of which 21 were installed on the focal plane, along with four specialty rafts used for structural purposes. It takes six months of careful work, such rafts, worth $ 3 million each, are excessive fragile
The specs on this digital camera are unmistakable. At 3,200-megapixels, it can solve a golfball from a distance of 24 miles (24 km), and its viewing field is large enough to accommodate 40 full moons. It can to see things that are 100 million times darker than those seen by the helpless eye, as if seeing a candle from a few thousand miles away.
SLAC researchers plan to add the camera’s lens, shutter, and filter exchange system later this year. Once the test is completed, the device will be transferred to Chile and installed at the Rubin Observatory, which could happen in mid-2021. If all goes well, the LSST project will start in 2022 and run until 2032.