this ABC news story was a bit of a relief. Not that I stay awake at night worrying about a “Deep Impact” from the Southern Skies, but is is annoying how long we’ve effectively been blind to half the universe.
The SkyMapper is a modest 1.35 metres in diameter but it is equipped with a 268 megapixel camera. Each pixel is 100 times more sensitive than those in the average digital camera.
“The thing that differentiates this telescope is that it can look at a piece of sky 25 times larger than the full moon. A normal telescope looks at a piece of sky much smaller than the full moon,” Professor Schmidt said.
“So this allows us to map the sky very quickly, even 100 times faster than a normal telescope. So that enables us – within five years – to cover every part of the southern sky more than 35 times, in six colours, and that provides a complete census.
“If we were to use a normal telescope it would take 1,000 years to cover the sky because they just don’t capture much of the sky at a time.”
And check the super-geek requirements for this!
Despite the telescope being 700 kilometres from Mt Stromlo, 1 gigabyte of data will be transmitted every 8 seconds via a fibre optic cable.
The information will be stored in the ANU’s super computer which can store a petabyte of data (1,000 terabytes).