The World’s Most Powerful Digital Camera Snaps Its First Photos

On a mountaintop in Chile is the most powerful digital camera mankind has ever constructed. Called the Dark Energy Camera, the phone booth-sized device shoots 570-megapixel photographs using an array of 62 separate CCD sensors and a 13-foot light-gathering mirror. Planning and building the thing took 120 scientists from 23 international organizations a whopping 8 years.

This past week, the researchers behind the project announced the first fruits of their labor: massive photographs that show patches of the sky 20 times the size of the moon (as seen from Earth).

The photographs are so big and so sensitive that each one shows over 100,000 separate galaxies that are up to 8 billion light years away.

Over the next five years, scientists plan to create these massive color photos of 1/8th of the night sky, capturing 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters, and even 4,000 supernovae. Although the camera itself shoots in monochrome, color will be obtained using five color filters the size of manhole covers.

A glimpse into the heart of this massive camera that shows its 62 CCD sensors

If you’re wondering why a US-sponsored space camera is located on a mountain in Chile, it’s because the Chilean Andes have atmospheric conditions that make for super-sharp shots of space. The view of the stars from the mountaintops there allow the scientists to achieve some of the sharpest resolution images possible from the surface of our planet (telescope cameras floating around in space don’t have to deal with things like atmosphere, air pollution, and light pollution).

The Dark Energy Camera should enjoy its “largest digital camera” crown while it can, since the camera won’t be holding the title for too much longer. Last year, the US Government gave the green light for an even beastlier digicam. The LSST Project‘s camera will shoot 3.2-gigapixel photos using an array of 189 CCD sensors.

(via Phys.Org)

Image credits: Photographs by Dark Energy Survey Collaboration and Fermilab

  • Jon Senterfitt

    I WANT ONE. Or maybe even a 1dx…

  • ramod’ulivo

    nah its better hasselblad lunar

  • Vlad Dusil

    The fact that this camera enables humans to see 8 billion years into the past blows my f’ing mind.

    I’m now going to stop thinking about the rapid expansion of the universe before I burst something in my brain.

  • stanimir stoyanov

    Ah, now i have to buy filters for another thread size…

  • williambaranowski

    I’m trying to think of a snarky comment, but, I have to go put cash on my WalMart card right now.

  • Richard Phi Duong

    or you could use soojix dot com, and see how much that will blow your mind in the future.

  • Roy

    Not to mention scaffolding and a squeegee to clean the sensor(s).

  • quickpick

    .. and don’t forget to upgrade your computers in order to edit these pictures! :D

  • Aaditya

    Dear Vlad, 8 Billion Light Years is a unit of measurement and not time. The camera cannot show past.

  • Vlad Dusil

    I am aware. The light reaching us now from a distance of 8 billion lightyears away left the origin 8 billion years ago. The light can’t travel faster than light speed.

    Hence, we are seeing light now that’s 8 billion years old.

  • Curt Bringham

    this is fricken stupid

  • aeternus

    yeah, you’re right! because the light have a limited speed when you look up in the night at the sky you see in the past. even if the sun will explode we will see it 8 minutes after the actual explosion. so when we look at the pictures showing some 8 billion light years away galaxies we in fact see those galaxies as they showed 8 billion years in the past. maybe some of them don’t look the same today because collisions between galaxies.

  • DylanWalkerPhotography

    We’ll just need to get one of NASA’s computer’s!

  • E-Nonymouse A

    So where can we buy one? :D