New Telescope Can Scan Entire Southern Sky in Three Days

New Telescope Can Scan Entire Southern Sky in Three Days

LSST Telescope 310x

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope can do in three days what the Hubble can do...in 120 years.

A new telescope being built by a giant consortium of schools, governments and private donors celebrated a major milestone this past weekend, as its mirror assembly construction is finally complete.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST for short, will have the largest convex mirror ever constructed. The 27.6-foot-wide (8.4 meters) mirror and its assembly, built at the University of Arizona, weighs about 20 tons. The final product will give astonomers never before seen views of the galaxy, and beyond.

How "never before seen," are we talking here? If the Hubble Space Telescope were to scan the entire southern sky, it would take the 25-year-old telescope (improvements excluded) 120 years to complete. The LSST, which will live in the mountains of Chile's Atacama Desert, can do the same job in three nights.

That impressive number is crucially important for both space exploration in a number of ways. Not only can the LSST help out with the search for habitable exoplanets, but it can also lend its massive hand to asteroid and comet tracking, something every space-facing institution is currently struggling with. Being able to scan half the viewable sky in a matter of days, only to repeat the process in another three days the next week or month, allows even the most distant objects to be tracked and triangulated.

The entire project has a cost of about $700 million, with the cash coming from a number of sources. Along with funding from the National Science Foundation, the LSST is being funded by private investors (including Bill Gates and fellow former Microsoft exec Charles Simonyi), corporations like Google, too many colleges and universities to list (Carnegie Mellon and Johns Hopkins among them), and other government-tied entities (like Los Alamos and Livermore Labs). The full list of participants is here.

Earlier tests aside, the LSST should be fully operational sometime in 2021.

Source: Seattle Times

Permalink

So the consortium is making a LSST, and presumably checking it twice?

Awful puns aside, this is really cool. Now we just need one for scanning the northern hemisphere and we'll have total coverage.

The mirror assembly is finished, yet it will take another 6+ years to be fully operational? That's one hell of a project I guess.

Devin Connors:
If the Hubble Space Telescope were to scan the entire southern sky, it would take the 35-year-old telescope (improvements excluded) 120 years to complete.

Actually the Hubble Space Telescope is only about 25 years old not 35

Bad Jim:

Devin Connors:
If the Hubble Space Telescope were to scan the entire southern sky, it would take the 35-year-old telescope (improvements excluded) 120 years to complete.

Actually the Hubble Space Telescope is only about 25 years old not 35

OHHHH LOOK AT BIG, FANCY BAD JIM AND HIS MATH SKILLS.

(I fixed the error, and thanks for pointing it out!)

Man, that is awesome. If I win the lottery... definitely throwing money at that.

Hah this is going to add a lot of fuel to a certain denomination of the conspiracy theorist camp. They've been banging the drum about various low profile observatories in the southern hemisphere that are looking for "something" for...I dunno, probably the last 20 years.

Adding in a telescope of this power is just going to make them stand up and scream "I TOLD YOU SO" as loud as they can.

Watch the skies!

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here