The telescope will be located on the El Peñón peak of Cerro Pachón, a 2682 metre high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.
|Large Synoptic Survey Telescope|
|Location||El Peñón, Chile|
|Altitude||2,662.75 m (top of pier)|
|First light||Fall 2015|
|Telescope style||Paul-Baker/ Mersenne-Schmidt wide-angle|
|Secondary dia.||3.4 m|
|Tertiary dia.||5.0 m|
|Angular resolution||0.7″ median seeing limit |
0.2″ pixel size
|Collecting area||35 m²|
|Focal length||9.9 m|
OverviewThe LSST design is unique among large telescopes (8m-class primary mirrors) in having a very wide field of view: 3.5 degrees in diameter, or 9.6 square degrees. For comparison, both the Sun and Moon, as seen from the Earth, are 0.5 degrees across, or 0.2 square degrees. Combined with its large aperture (and thus light-collecting ability), this will give it a spectacularly large etendue of 319 m²degree².
To achieve this very wide undistorted field of view requires three mirrors, rather than the two used by most existing large telescopes: the primary mirror will be 8.4 meters in diameter, the secondary mirror will be 3.4 metres in diameter, and the tertiary mirror, located in a large hole in the primary, will be 5.0 metres in diameter. The large hole reduces the primary mirror's light collecting area to 35 m², equivalent to a 6.68 m diameter circle. (Multiplying this by the field of view produces an etendue of 336 m²degree²; the actual figure is reduced by vignetting.)
The primary/tertiary mirror was built as a monolithic unit. Construction of the mold began in November 2007 at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, mirror casting was begun in March 2008, and the mirror blank was declared "perfect" at the beginning of September 2008. A 3.2 gigapixel prime focus digital camera will take a 15-second exposure every 20 seconds.
Allowing for maintenance, bad weather, etc., the camera is expected to take over 200,000 pictures (1.28 petabytes uncompressed) per year, far more than can be reviewed by humans. Managing and effectively data mining the enormous output of the telescope is expected to be the most technically difficult part of the project. Initial computer requirements are estimated at 100 teraflops of computing power and 15 petabytes of storage, rising as the project collects data.
In January, 2008 software billionaires Charles Simonyi and Bill Gates pledged $20 million and $10 million respectively to the project. The project continues to seek a National Science Foundation grant of nearly $400 million.
Scientific goalsParticular scientific goals of the LSST include:
- Measuring weak gravitational lensing in the deep sky to detect signatures of dark energy and dark matter.
- Mapping small objects in the solar system, particularly near-Earth asteroids and Kuiper belt objects.
- Detecting transient optical events such as novae and supernovae.
- Mapping the Milky Way.
Synoptic is an adjective from the same root as the noun "synopsis", and means "relating to data obtained nearly simultaneously over a large area."
Some of the data from the LSST (up to 30 Terabytes per night) will be made available by Google as an up-to-date interactive night-sky map.
- ^ Charles F. Claver; et al. (2007-03-19), LSST Reference Design, LSST Corporation, pp. 64–65, http://lsst.org/files/docs/LSST-RefDesign.pdf, retrieved 2008-12-10 The map on p. 64 shows the Universal Transverse Mercator location of the centre of the telescope pier at approximately 6653188.9 N, 331859.5 E, in zone 19J. However, those UTM coordinates appear to be using the PSAD56 (La Canoa) datum, as other assumptions do not lead to a peak. This is apparently widely used in South American UTM grids. The coordinates above have been translated to WGS84.
- ^ LSST Summit Facilities, 2009-08-14, http://www.lsst.org/lsst/science/summit_facilities, retrieved 2009-08-21
- ^ a b c d e f g h LSST Basic Configuration, LSST Corporation, http://www.lssto.org/Science/lsst_baseline.shtml, retrieved 2008-01-28 [dead link]
- ^ Willstrop, R. V. (October 1, 1984), "The Mersenne-Schmidt: A three-mirror survey telescope", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 210 (3): 597–609, ISSN 0035-8711, http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1984MNRAS.210..597W, retrieved 2008-01-23
- ^ LSST Observatory - News & Events
- ^ Steward Observatory Mirror Lab Awarded Contract for Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Mirror
- ^ LSST Observatory - Site Photos
- ^ LSST High Fire Event
- ^ Giant Furnace Opens to Reveal 'Perfect' LSST Mirror Blank, LSST Corporation, 2009-09-02, http://www.lsst.org/News/LSSTC_08.shtml, retrieved 2008-09-03 [dead link]
- ^ The camera is actually at the tertiary focus, not the prime focus, but being located at a "trapped focus" in front of the primary mirror, the associated technical problems are similar to those of a conventional prime-focus survey camera.
- ^ Boon, Miriam (2010-10-18), "Astronomical Computing", Symmetry Breaking, http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/breaking/2010/10/18/astronomical-computing/, retrieved 2010-10-26
- ^ Dennis Overbye (January 3, 2008). "Donors Bring Big Telescope a Step Closer". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/science/space/05scope.html?ex=1357189200&en=b96008fcade4d4f0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
- ^ Matt Stephens (2008-10-03), Mapping the universe at 30 Terabytes a night: Jeff Kantor, on building and managing a 150 Petabyte database, The Register, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/03/lsst_jeff_kantor/print.html, retrieved 2008-10-03
- ^ Google Joins Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Project
- Official home page
- LSST reports and documentation
- Science & Technology brief
- New Scientist SPACE Article
- LSST Tutorials for Experimental Particle Physicists is a detailed explanation of LSST's design (as of February 2006) and weak lensing science goals that does not assume a lot of astronomy background.
- The New Digital Sky is a video of a July 25, 2006 presentation at Google about the LSST, particularly the data management issues.
- HULIQ Google participation announcement
- Ž. Ivezić et al. (2008-05-15), LSST: From Science Drivers to Reference Design and Anticipated Data Products (v1.0), arXiv:0805.2366 [astro-ph], http://www.lsst.org/overview/overview_v1.0.pdf, retrieved 2008-06-01 [dead link], this is a comprehensive overview of the LSST.