Chile receives the largest camera in the world for astronomical observation

Chile receives the largest camera in the world for astronomical observation
Chile receives the largest camera in the world for astronomical observation

Santiago de Chile, May 22 (EFE).- The largest camera built for astrophysics arrived in Chile from California, where it was built, to be integrated into the Vera Rubin telescope, installed on Cerro Pachón in the Coquimbo Region, in the north of the country, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) reported this Wednesday.

“We are very excited that this 3,200 megapixel camera is now safe and sound in our facilities,” Stuartt Corder, scientific director of AURA in Chile, project administrator, said in a statement.

The camera and associated equipment were transported by plane from the United States to Santiago, where it arrived on May 15, and by land from the capital to the Elqui Valley, where the Vera Rubin Observatory is located.

“It was a tremendous logistical challenge. We received it at the Santiago airport and we needed nine trucks to take everything to our facilities in Cerro Pachón,” explained the director of AURA in Chile, Alejandra Voigt, in the note.

With exceptional geographical and natural advantages offered by the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean—little cloud cover at high altitudes, a low-turbulent atmosphere, and stable temperatures—Chile has become a first-class host for telescopes from more than 30 countries.

“Over the next few decades, this revolutionary telescope and the harmonious design of the compound optical system, the largest camera ever built and the rapid scanning capability will allow us to map the southern hemisphere sky every three to four nights,” Corder noted.

He added that this team, which represented an investment of US$168 million, was financed by the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy, an entity that also contributed, together with the US National Science Foundation, to the construction of the complete project.

When Rubin begins the Legacy Space and Time Survey (LSST) in late 2025, the world’s largest digital camera, which is the size of a car, will take detailed images of the southern hemisphere sky for 10 years, “creating the most complete time-lapse of the Universe that has ever been seen,” says the AURA note.

Rubin will drive advances and new discoveries in many scientific areas, including exploring the nature of dark matter and energy, mapping the Milky Way, investigating our Solar System, and studying celestial objects that change brightness or position.

“Taking the camera to the hill was the last major piece of the puzzle. With all Rubin components physically on site, we are on the home stretch toward transformative science,” Rubin Project Manager Victor Krabbendam said in the note.

This camera is the last major component of Rubin’s survey telescope. After several months of clean room testing, it will be installed on the telescope along with the 8.4-meter primary mirror and 3.4-meter secondary mirror to prepare for its commissioning in 2025.

According to the researchers, each night the telescope will generate a volume of information of about 20 million megabytes –20 terabytes–, which will be processed by thousands of computers from three different countries: the United States, England and France. EFE


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