Rubin Observatory Welcomes Arrival of Largest Camera in History After 20 Years of Development

Gamingdeputy reported on May 26 that after twenty years of development, the 3.2 billion pixel camera built specifically for astrophysical discoveries has finally arrived at its final destination – the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. The camera, called “Legacy of Space and Time (LSST)”, arrived at the observatory in mid-May 2024.

The camera traveled from the manufacturing lab at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, where technicians installed special data loggers, monitors, and GPS to track its condition during transportation. They then placed the camera in a special shipping box, and the entire device was shipped from San Francisco Airport to Santiago, the capital of Chile, on a charter flight on May 14. Once in Chile, it took another five-hour drive over 35 kilometers of winding dirt roads to finally arrive at the Rubin Observatory's observation site on May 16. According to the project construction manager, the arrival of the camera marks a major step forward in the construction of the Rubin Observatory. “Getting the camera to the top of the mountain is like completing the last critical piece of the puzzle,” he said. “With all the components of the Rubin Observatory in place, we are moving towards conducting transformative scientific research using the LSST.”


According to Gamingdeputy, this LSST camera is the last major component to arrive for the Rubin Observatory's Simonyi Survey Telescope.The camera is about the size of a small car and is the largest camera ever built.The internal focal plane is composed of 189 CCD sensors arranged in a “raft” shape.Together, these sensors provide a 3.2 billion pixel field of view.

Once it arrives at the observatory, the camera will first undergo several months of testing in a clean room before being installed on the Simonyi Survey Telescope, where it will work alongside the newly coated 8.4-meter primary mirror and 3.4-meter secondary mirror.

The Vera Rubin Observatory is named after astronomer Vera C. Rubin, whose research focuses on the mysterious “dark matter” that permeates the entire universe. Exploring dark matter and its distribution in the universe is one of the main goals of the observatory named after her.


The LSST camera will help scientists unravel the mysteries of dark matter distribution. First, the camera will spend ten years imaging the sky every night, performing a large-scale survey program that aims to provide a complete image of the entire visible sky every 3-4 days. Each imaging area will be equivalent to the area of ​​40 full moons, and the survey process will use the 8.4-meter telescope to move quickly between imaging locations. It is estimated that when the Rubin Observatory is fully operational, it will produce a total of 500 PB of images and data products.

Rubin Observatory will not only conduct sky surveys at unprecedented ultra-high resolution, but will also track objects that change in brightness, including supernovae, variable stars, mergers of compact objects (such as neutron stars or black holes), and other rapidly changing celestial events. In addition, it will track asteroids and other objects that pass through the solar system.

The formation and evolution of the Milky Way is another important area of ​​research for the Rubin Observatory. The telescope will be able to track stellar streams in the Milky Way and map their trajectories. This information will reveal answers to mysteries such as how the Milky Way was formed and how stars from swallowed galaxies move through the Milky Way.

Currently, the Rubin Observatory is still in the final stages of construction. The main body of the telescope has been installed, and other instruments and infrastructure are being completed. It is expected to start operation in 2025.

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