A lab in the US is close to completing the construction of the world’s largest digital camera, featuring a five-foot (1.65m) wide lens and a 3,200-megapixel camera.
The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) camera is being built by researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University for the purpose of capturing the night sky in never-before-seen detail.
Once finished, the camera will be transported to the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile where it will be placed atop the Simonyi Survey Telescope.
With a field of view of 9.6 square degrees – nearly 40 times more than the size of the Moon when viewed from Earth – astronomers will be able to capture variations in brightness of the 37 billion stars within its view, as well as other periodic instabilities that have been previously impossible to observe.
In doing so, scientists hope it will bring new understanding to some of the universe’s biggest mysteries, such as the nature of dark matter.
The camera has already been recognised by the Guiness World Records as the optical lens ever built, capable of taking up to 15 terabytes of images every night.
"The Rubin Observatory LSST Camera is the largest digital camera ever constructed... it’s roughly the size of a small car and weighs almost 6200 lbs (2800 kg),” the project’s website explains.
“The LSST Camera will produce data of extremely high quality with minimal downtime and maintenance.”
With construction nearly complete, the LSST is expected to be relocated to the Chile observatory in May 2023 aboard a specially-adapted Boeing 747 cargo plane. Operation will then begin the following year once it is installed.