Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)
Observatory Sciences has completed the design study for the Observatory Control System for the innovative new Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which is set to redefine the expectations of astronomers and scientists for observational data.
The LSST is a US project headquartered in Arizona that is building a revolutionary new design of telescope that has a field of view 1000 times larger than that of existing large telescopes and a world-class light gathering capability. Every aspect of the project will be record breaking. The field of view, at ten square degrees, could accommodate fifty full moons.
The LSST will image an area of the sky roughly fifty times that of the full moon every 15 seconds, opening a movie-like window on objects that change or move on rapid time scales - supernovae explosions which can be seen halfway across the universe, nearby asteroids which might potentially strike Earth, and faint objects in the outer solar system, far beyond Pluto. Using the light-bending gravity of dark matter, the LSST will chart the history of the expansion of the universe and probe the mysterious nature of dark energy.
The superb images from the LSST will also be used to trace billions of remote galaxies and measure the distortions in their shapes produced by lumps of Dark Matter, providing multiple tests of the mysterious Dark Energy. LSST will open up the 'time domain' by mapping the entire sky deeply, rapidly and continuously. It will provide all-sky maps of unimagined depth and detail, and keep doing so continuously so that changes in the universe are identified for analysis. Cosmic cartography will become cosmic cinematography, and forever change the way the heavens are viewed. The project will be partly funded by donations from private individuals and data from LSST will be placed in the public domain immediately. Multiple teams of professional scientists will be able to make new discoveries in parallel, while amateur astronomers and the public will be free to view LSST images to follow developments or even make their own contributions.
The LSST has become possible because we are now able to make large, deeply curved mirrors to an accuracy thought impossible just ten years ago. The telescope uses three mirrors, an 8.4m primary, a 3.4m secondary and a 5.0m tertiary, with the first and last fabricated as a single monolith. This three stage reflection means that LSST is actually so compact that it could sit inside current generation telescope domes.
It has recently been announced that Cerro Pach—n, a 2,680m high mountain peak in northern Chile, has been selected as the future site for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. The mountain already hosts other large telescopes including the Gemini South 8m reflecting telescope on which Observatory Sciences consultants have worked in the past.
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