Here's an easy to way to silence your annoying photographer friends who brag about the megapixels in their expensive DSLRs. The U.S. DoE has just endorsed the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center's proposal to build a 650 ton behemoth of a camera, with a 3.2 billion pixel sensor, that will snap images of the heavens from an observatory being built atop a Chilean mountain.
The £104 million camera will claim about a third of the £313 million budget for the new Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and will include 60 tons of optical components alone. I hope those researchers have found an extremely comfy neck strap. Every night the camera's sensor, which is composed of 189 sophisticated light-sensitive semiconductor chips, will take over 800 wide-field exposures covering an area of the sky about 49 times larger than the moon. Allowing it to photograph the entire night sky twice a week. And just because it's heavy, doesn't mean it's slow. The camera will be able to reposition itself between shots in as little as five seconds.
Of course a sensor that large is also going to produce some hefty sized photos. In a single night's work the camera will capture over 15TB of images and astronomical data, and before its ten year lifespan comes to an end, it will have amassed over 100 petabytes of image data. So I hope the engineers at Stanford have included at least a couple of SD card slots. [Stanford - Peta Pixel - R&D Magazine - Roger Galbraith]
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