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capturing the sky

Why astronomers are building the world's largest camera

Scientists are designing the largest digital camera in the world in order to capture panorama shots of the sky, NPR reports. The camera will be mounted on a massive telescope, called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, so that it can continually and repeatedly capture photos.

Previous cameras could only capture one part of the sky at a time, NPR explains, but LSST's panorama images will allow scientists to record objects moving across the sky over time. "That could be everything from asteroids, to variable stars, to supernova, to maybe new phenomenon that we don't know about yet," Aaron Roodman, a physicist at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, told NPR.

Pieces of the camera are in the works at labs all over the world: The Brookhaven National Laboratory on New York's Long Island is constructing sensors; The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is working on optical lenses near the San Francisco Bay in California; a device for switching out color filters is coming all the way from France.

The massive camera will carry the equivalent of 21 144-megapixel cameras. A single 144-megapixel camera has six times the amount of megapixels on a high-end camera.

Once it's built, the camera will be attached to the LSST in Chile. Scientists aim to start taking photos in 2020.