After all kinds of delays, and thanks to public and private financing (Bill gates, for example, contributed 10 million dollars), finally the green light has been given to the construction of the LSST (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) or Large Telescope for Tracking or Synoptic Probes, which will begin to be built this spring on top of a mountain in the Atacama desert of Chile, on Cerro Pachón, in the Coquimbo Region, at 2682 meters of altitude.
The choice of place has to do with the fact that it has a lot of clear nights a year: not in vain, the desert of Atacama is the driest in the world: it only rains 0.1 millimeters of water on an annual average, that is, it is 250 times drier than the Sahara desert, where it rains an average of 25 liters per year.
To understand LSST technology, with its 3,200 megapixel cameraIt should be noted that the Hubble Space Telescope (a telescope that orbits outside the atmosphere, in circular orbit around the Earth at 593 km above sea level) would need 120 years to achieve what the LSST will do in just a few days, allowing you to track the movement of billions of objects and see how stars are born and die, and offering photographs like the ones we have never seen (and fortunately they will be free). It will also allow us to:
- Measure gravitation lenses in space to detect dark matter, as well as dark energy.
- Recognize small objects in the solar system, in particular asteroids near Earth and objects from the Kuiper Belt.
- Detect transient optical events, such as novae and supernovae
- Make a map of the Milky Way.
The cost of its construction will reach 700 million dollars and the astronomers of the project expect to receive the first data in 2019, although its official commissioning is scheduled for 2021, as explained Steven Kahn, LSST project director:
With its ability to detect weak objects and look into the confines of the universe, LSST has been designed to address some of the greatest challenges of astronomy.
Other powerful telescopes
Automated Planet Finder Another of the largest telescopes in the world is in Spain, specifically in the Canary Islands. It is located in the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, on the island of La Palma, at a height of 2,396 meters. Its main mirror measures 10.4 meters in diameter, with a vision power equivalent to 4 million human pupils.
On July 28, 2014, the construction of another large telescope, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which will also be located on an island, such as the Gran Telescopio de Canarias, specifically at the summit of Mauna Kea, in Hawaii.
And in January 2014, the Automated Planet Finder (APF), a 2.4-meter telescope located at the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton in California, the first being the first robotic telescope dedicated to the search for habitable exoplanets.