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Construction of largest digital camera ever built for astronomy completed

BYLINE: NSF NOIRLab

Newswise — After two decades of work, Department of Energy scientists and engineers SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and their collaborators celebrate the completion of the LSST Camera. Once mounted on Vera C. Observatory.It is Simonyi Survey Telescope, the 3,200 megapixel camera will help researchers observe our Universe in unprecedented detail. During his ten years Investigation inherited from space and timeThe LSST camera will generate a huge trove of data about the southern night sky that researchers will mine for new insights into dark energy, black matterthe changing night sky, the Milky Way and our solar system.

Vera C. Rubin Observatory is jointly funded by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Department of Energy (DOE), and is a program of NSF NOIRLabwhich, with SLAC, will cooperatively operate Rubin.

“With the completion of the unique LSST camera at SLAC and its imminent integration with the rest of the systems at the Rubin Observatory in Chile, we will soon begin producing the largest film of all time and the most comprehensive map of the night sky. most informative ever assembled”, said Željko Ivezić, construction director of the Rubin Observatory and professor at the University of Washington.

To achieve this objective, the SLAC team and its partners built the the largest digital camera never built for astronomy. The camera is about the size of a small car and weighs about 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds), and its front lens measures more than 1.5 meters (5 feet) in diameter – the largest lens ever designed for this purpose. Another lens, 90 centimeters (3 feet) wide, had to be specially designed to seal the vacuum chamber that houses the camera’s enormous focal plane. This focal plane is made up of 201 custom-designed individual CCD sensors and is so flat that its surface area varies by no more than a tenth of the width of a human hair. The pixels themselves are only 0.01 mm (10 microns) wide.

Nonetheless, the camera’s most important feature is its ability to capture details across an unprecedented field of view. It’s so awesome that it would take hundreds of ultra-high definition televisions to display just one of its images in full size. “Its images are so detailed that they could detect a golf ball about 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. » said Aaron Roodman, professor at SLAC and deputy director of the Rubin Observatory and head of the camera program.

“And these secrets are increasingly important to reveal. » said Kathy Turner, DOE Cosmic Frontier Program manager. “More than ever, expanding our understanding of fundamental physics requires looking further into the Universe. With the LSST camera at its heart, the Rubin Observatory will delve deeper than ever into the cosmos and help answer some of the most difficult and important questions in physics today.

Now that the LSST camera is completed and has been thoroughly tested at SLAC, it will be packaged and shipped to Chile and driven 2,737 meters (8,980 feet) to Cerro Pachón in the Andes, where it will later be hoisted onto the Simonyi survey telescope. This year.

“Rubin Observatory Operations is very pleased to see this major milestone about to be achieved by the construction team,” said Bob Blum, director of operations for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. “Combined with advances in primary mirror coating, this brings us confidently and much closer to beginning the legacy study of space and time.” It happens.

The essential purpose of the LSST camera is to map the positions and measure the brightness of a large number of objects in the night sky. From the robust catalog built by Rubin, researchers will be able to deduce a wealth of information. Perhaps most notably, the LSST camera will look for signs of weak gravitational lens, when massive galaxies subtly bend light from more distant background galaxies. Weak lensing helps astronomers study the distribution of mass in the Universe and how it changes over time.

Scientists also want to study the distribution patterns of galaxies and how they change over time, by identifying galaxy clusters. black matter and spotting supernovae, which can help us all deepen our understanding of dark matter and dark energy look alike.

Even closer to home, researchers hope to create a much more in-depth census of the many small objects in our solar system, which could lead to a new understanding of how our solar system formed and perhaps help identify threats from asteroids that get a little too close to Earth.

With the LSST camera, researchers hope to achieve a much more detailed understanding of our Universe, providing insight into its structure and evolution as well as the nature of the objects found there.

Among the partner laboratories which have contributed their expertise and technology are Brookhaven National Laboratorywho built the camera’s digital sensor array, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratorywho, with its industrial partners, designed and built lenses for the camera, and the National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics At Scientific Research National Center (IN2P3/CNRS) in France, which helped design the sensors and electronics and built the camera’s filter exchange system, which will allow the camera to target six distinct bands of light, from l ultraviolet to infrared.

E-mail (email protected) to attend LSST Media Day at SLAC on April 11-12. RSVP before March 29.

More information

NSF NOIRLab (US National Science Foundation National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory), the American center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the International Gemini Observatory (an installation of NSF, NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–ArgentinaAnd KASI–Republic of Korea), Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), And Vera C. Rubin Observatory (operated in cooperation with the Ministry of EnergyIt is SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory). It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (WILL HAVE) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on I’oligam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawai’i, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very important cultural role and respect that these sites have for the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Native Hawaiian community, and local communities in Chile, respectively.

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a federal project jointly funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, with initial funding for construction coming from private donations through the LSST Discovery Alliance. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Construction Project Office was established as an operations center under the direction of the Association of Universities for Astronomical Research (AURA). The DOE-funded effort to build the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).

SLAC is managed by Stanford University for US Department of Energy Office of Science. The Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and strives to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

The United States National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency established by Congress in 1950 to promote the advancement of science. NSF supports basic research and individuals to create knowledge that transforms the future.

NSF and DOE will continue to support the Rubin Observatory in its operational phase through NSF NOIRLab and DOE’s SLAC.

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