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that the U.S. Department of Energy has approved the funding for what will be the largest digital camera ever made. A component in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), the camera will be a 3.2-gigapixel device constructed of a mosaic of 189 CCD sensors sensitive to ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light. The LSST will be installed in a mountaintop observatory in northern Chile.
R&D says the camera will be "roughly the size of a small car", and it will take 800 panoramic images each night, surveying the entire southern sky twice a week. The camera's development is being led by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and it will cost about one third of the US$500 million budget for the telescope.
Scientists plan to use the camera to investigate dark matter and dark energy, near earth asteroids, and other phenomena.
It will also allow them to construct a map of the universe — a "four-dimensional space-time landscape of color and motion" — with unprecedented detail. The project will be a public facility; its imagery and data will be made publicly available over the Internet, allowing anyone with a computer to "fly through the universe, zooming past objects a hundred million times fainter than can be observed with the unaided eye," according to