The SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, almost completed building the largest chamber in the world. Its resolution is 3.2 Gp or 3200 Mp. To make it all work, a lens with a diameter of 1.57 meters is used:
This camera is far from the household. However, for an ordinary photographer, many values seem prohibitive. For example, the minimum shutter speed is 15 seconds. This length is due to the size of the matrix, which must be closed when creating a snapshot. Well, that is, like matrices … In fact, these are 189 separate CCD matrices, the resolution of each of which is 16 megapixels. All matrices are combined according to the formula three × 3, that is, nine pieces in each square block, of which there are 21 pieces.
The distance between the sensors, placed in nine squares, does not exceed the thickness of a few human hairs. Since any movement is fraught with possible breakdowns, this camera was assembled for a long six months.
All blocks, of which there are 21 pieces, are fixed on unique “rafts” – platforms 2 feet long (almost 61 cm) and weighing 9 kg. The cost of each of them is about 3 million dollars.
Despite the massive number of 3.2 billion pixels, each is much larger than in ordinary cameras – about 10 µm.
In general, the resolution of this thing is so high that you can see a golf ball in the picture, which was taken at a distance of 15 miles (a little over 24 km) from the golf course:
Due to the massive size of the sensor, which consists of an array of matrices, the minimum shutter speed is 15 seconds. The camera will take two pictures and then move and take a picture of another part of the galaxy.
The camera will be equipped with filters, each set to let in only specific wavelengths of light. Five are fixed on the lens, and the sixth is for replacement. The change of attached lenses is automatic and takes about two minutes.
For the operation of this chamber, special blocks with a cryostat are located behind the matrix. This is because the camera produces 1100 watts of heat during the process. Such power leads to overheating and failure of the matrix, so it must be constantly cooled to -100 ° C. Among other things, low temperatures reduce the amount of noise.
However, the cryostat is another headache for engineers. They recently had to replace the fluid and all cooling system elements. And the work to replace them is still going on.
The lens’s angle of view, whose diameter is 1.57 meters, is not unique: 3.5 °. However, this is enough to fit seven earth moons on the horizontal axis. And here, nevertheless, it is worth understanding that a lot of information about our galaxy will fit in this same 3.5°.
It is assumed that over ten years of using the camera with its help, more than twenty billion galaxies will be photographed.
If the final assembly is successful, then in May 2023, the camera will go on a private Boeing 747 from San Francisco straight to Santiago. Since the multimillion-dollar camera is susceptible to movement, the engineers want to keep ground travel to a minimum. The camera will take the first pictures no earlier than 2024, provided that the final assembly and delivery to the Chilean observatory of Vera Rubin will take place without a hitch.