The Camera Bag: 3.2 Billion (Yes, Billion!) Pixel Telescope Will Be World’s Largest Digital Camera


posted Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 5:04 PM EDT

If you thought the megapixel wars were over, you've probably never heard of the 3.2 billion pixel Large Synoptic Survey Telescope camera.

Comprised of 189 sensors and over three tons of components, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), is designed to capture the entire visible sky every week. In doing so, it will create an unprecedented public archive of data: about 6 billion gigabytes of imaging info per year.

According to the SLAC News Center, that's "the equivalent of shooting roughly 800,000 images with a regular eight-megapixel digital camera every night."

And these photos won't just be iPhone snaps of your evening meal that you can push onto Instagram and share with friends. They will include "deep and frequent cosmic vistas" that will provide info on "dark energy and dark matter and aid studies of near-Earth asteroids, Kuiper belt objects, the structure of our galaxy and many other areas of astronomy and fundamental physics."

Whoa, that's pretty heavy.

The LSST is being billed as "the world's largest digital camera" and an artist rendering of its lens is on the upper right of this page. Notice the man standing next it to for perspective?

Yup, this sucker will be big and it has just received "Critical Decision 1" approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to move on to the next stage of development.

If all goes as planned, construction on the telescope will begin in 2014. Preliminary work has already started on the LSST's 8.4-meter primary mirror and on a special observatory for the telescope on top of Cerro Pachón mountain in Chile.

More details here.