Assembled at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) camera is dubbed the “World’s Largest Digital Camera,” and will be installed in the Vera Rubin Observatory (VRO) in Chile.
It has 189 16-MP CCD sensors (though not all the sensors are used for imaging) and captures 3,200-MP photos. That resolution allows us to see a golf ball from 15 miles away, and the sensors can spot objects 100 million times dimmer than visible with the naked eye.
To test the camera, some of the first images taken are of a broccoli, which was deliberately chosen for its very elaborate surface structure with innumerable lumps and bumps, guaranteeing a tonne of detail to pick out.
Also, since the lenses are not available yet, the broccoli was photographed through a 150-micron pinhole, making this also the currently largest pinhole camera ever.
The observatory will use its 8.4 m (27.6 ft) wide mirror and 3.2-billion-pixel camera to conduct a landmark 10-year study of the cosmos. The camera will cover about 10 square degrees of sky (about 40 times the size of a full Moon) and take pictures across the sky essentially every 15 seconds, generating a panorama of the southern sky every few nights. Not only will scientists get very deep images of the whole sky (including imagery of about 20 billion different galaxies), but also get a time sequence allowing them to see which stars have changed in brightness, and anything that has moved through the sky like asteroids and comets.
It’s expected the VRO’s camera (with lenses) will start taking images of the sky in late 2022.