World’s Largest Digital Camera Scans the Heavens for Danger
The world’s largest digital camera is being used by astronomers and scientists to monitor various space phenomena, including possible "planet-destroying asteroids," according to National Geographic.
The camera is a critical component of the PS1 telescope in Hawaii, and is snapping images of the heavens every 30 seconds at a staggering resolution of 1,400 megapixels per photo.
The images are mapping areas in the sky “as large as 36 full moons – a view 3,600 times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope’s main camera.” A 300-dpi print of one of the images would cover half a basketball court. In a full day the camera captures enough data to fill 1,000 DVDs.
The giant camera not only enables scientists to track near-Earth orbiting asteroids that have the potential to cause major damage if they were to impact the planet (according to Edo Berger, a professor with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “It provides the best early-warning system we have”), but it also creates the potential for celestial discoveries previously unimaginable.
Scientists are now able to see objects that are ten times fainter than anything registered during previous surveys thanks to the technology the camera offers. Because of its stunning accuracy and sensitivity, scientists anticipate making many new breakthroughs.
“This will take us a long way along the path of charting the heavens, both in space and in time,” Berger said.
— by Cameron Handley