Wonderful Engineering

The World’s Biggest Telescope In The Chilean Desert Is Almost Complete

An amazing footage from a drone has unveiled the progress on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. It is a massive instrument that can produce the deepest and widest image of the universe that has ever been captured yet. The construction of this massive telescope began in 2015 and it is expected to start its operation around 2022. After almost three years, the video shows how the huge telescope on a mountaintop looks like.

The video was published this week by the LSST team. It was submitted by Assembly Integration Verification Manager Jacques Sebag, who recorded the amazing view of the telescope using a drone. At the time of construction, the team was working with subcontractor Besalco to move the facility’s mobile roof to a flatter area on the north side of the building. As per the timeline of the project’s construction, it will see the engineering light somewhere around 2019-2022. The operations are expected to begin around 2022-2023.

The LSST captures more than 800 images each night to capture the entire sky twice every week. The telescope is equipped with a 3.2-gigapixel camera. It is so powerful that it will require 1500 HD screens to display just one picture taken from it. The camera will be blasted into space to form the heart of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

The team says that “Each patch of sky it images will be visited 1000 times during the survey. With a light-gathering power equal to the 6.7-m diameter primary mirror, each of its 30-second observations will be able to detect objects 10 million times fainter than visible with the human eye. A powerful data system will compare new with previous images to detect changes in brightness and position of the objects as big as far-distant galaxy clusters and as small as near-by asteroids.”

The telescope is being assembled at the DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The camera will work as the eye of LSST. It will give a lot of detail of the universe and will help to uncover many mysteries as well. The Department of Energy approved the start of construction in September 2015. Critical Decision 3, the construction milestone, is marked as the most major and last approval decision before the acceptance of the final product. LSST Director Steven Kahn said, “Now we can go ahead and procure components and start building it.”

In 2022, when the telescope will start working, LSST will take digital images every few nights of the entire southern sky that is visible from a mountain called Cerro Pachon in Chile. It will give a wide, deep and fast survey of the night sky, that includes a large number of stars and galaxies that were never observed. The LSST will observe tens of billions of objects in 10 years time. This is the first time a telescope will observe more galaxies than the total population on earth.

The telescope’s camera has the size of a small car and has a weight of three tons. It will capture full sky images at such a high resolution that it would take 1500 HD televisions to display just a single image.