Large Synoptic Survey Telescope
LSST • Missions & Center • In Development
The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a 8.4-meter ground-based telescope. The LSST leverages innovative technology in all subsystems: the camera (3200 Megapixels, the world’s largest digital camera), telescope (simultaneous casting of the primary and tertiary mirrors; two aspherical optical surfaces on one substrate), and data management (30 Terabytes of data nightly, nearly instant alerts issued for objects that change in position or brightness).
The LSST is a synoptic survey in several ways: billions of objects will be imaged in six colors in an unprecedented large volume of our universe. This survey over half the sky also records the time evolution of these sources: the first motion picture of our universe.
From its mountaintop site in Chile, the LSST will image the entire visible sky every few nights, thus capturing changes and opening up the time-domain window to the observable universe. In a campaign of 15 second exposures, LSST will cover the available sky every three nights, opening a movie-like window on objects that change or move on rapid timescales: exploding supernovae, potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids, and distant Kuiper Belt Objects. 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.
The LSST data will reveal the new sky to scientists and the public with manifold implications for science. Billions of objects in our universe will be seen for the first time and monitored over time. Outstanding mysteries in astronomy and physics will be uniquely addressed.
IPAC as a part of Caltech is an institutional member of the project, and is developing the web-based Science User Interface, providing the immediate portal for astronomers and the public to the data collected by the LSST on nightly, yearly, and survey-long bases. The data will primarily be in the form of images, from a single CCD to the entire 9 square degree focal plane, and catalogs produced by extracting source information from the images as part of LSST Data Management.