moonDon’t look for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) digital camera for purchase from your favorite Web site retailer or local camera shop. This one-of-a-kind scientific instrument, when completed, will be the largest digital camera ever designed and manufactured. It measures approximately 5 by 10 feet and weighs more than 3 tons. The image surface will be more than 2 feet in diameter. To detect and record images, the LSST will have an array of 16-megapixel silicon detectors, which will total approximately 3.2 billion pixels.

The purpose of the LSST digital camera is to provide scientists with a previously impossible photographic record of the cosmos. With its incredibly large aperture and wide field of view of 3.5”, the LSST will have the capability to scan the completely visible sky every week. This will result in gathering approximately 6 million gigabytes of images every year. By comparison, a single digital photographer would have to shoot approximately 800,000 photos during 12 months with a rather standard 8-megapixel camera.

Construction is scheduled to start on the LSST digital camera during 2014, with installation to be on top of Cerro Pachón in northern Chile. This mountain in the Andes is the site of other large telescopes and astrophysics equipment.

Photograph by Photography Talk member Phil Roddenberry