World's largest digital camera now complete at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Bay Area

Dustin Dorsey Image
Friday, April 12, 2024
World's largest digital camera now complete in Bay Area
Bay Area scientists have spent two decades developing and completing the world's largest digital camera at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area scientists have spent two decades developing the world's largest digital camera ever, and the work at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is now complete.

The camera will move to South America where the next phase of study will begin.

"We like to say that the quality of the camera is roughly about 250 iPhone cameras," said Hannah Pollek, LSST at SLAC staff engineer . "One of our scientists did a calculation that it would be able to see a golf ball from the distance away of the moon."

The 3,200 megapixel legacy survey of space and time camera can capture images faster and with better quality than any camera before.

MORE: Meet the Morgan Hill student-engineers who built satellite NASA is launching into space

Creating something like this was not easy. It took two decades.

Mechanical Engineer Pollek helped install the camera's unique and expensive sensors.

"These sensors are so close together that, if you scaled it up a little bit, it would be as if you were parking million dollar sports cars within one inch of each other over and over and over throughout this whole grid of the focal point," Pollek said. "So, it's really exciting to see it all come to a close."

Now that work on this camera is complete, it's not going to be taking selfies.

MORE: NASA announces new 'super-Earth': Exoplanet orbits in 'habitable zone,' is only 137 light-years away

It's purpose has cosmic implications.

The camera will soon travel from SLAC to Chile at the Rubin Observatory.

The LSST camera will be mounted on top of a telescope to take images of space seven times wider than the width of a full moon.

"Over 10 years, we expect to see every part of the sky 1,000 times," SLAC Professor of Particle Physics and Astrophysics Aaron Roodman said. "With that, we'll be able to study stars, galaxies, asteroids and the solar system. We can really study an enormous amount about our universe."

MORE: 'First light': NASA receives laser-beamed message from 10 million miles away

Scientists know a lot about our universe, but not everything.

What's unknown is dark matter and dark energy.

This camera hopes to fill in the gaps of knowledge to give scientists a better picture of cosmic creation.

"This camera is designed to capture many galaxies, distant galaxies," LSST at SLAC Project Scientist Yousuke Utsumi said. "And from those galaxies, what the images will tell us how the universe evolves."

We'll see the first images from the LSST camera early next year. It will be a look at space like we've never had before.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live