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Space Earth Technology

1.4 Billion Pixel Camera To Watch For Asteroids 138

SpaceSlug writes "The world's largest digital camera is to be used to keep an eye out for asteroids heading towards Earth. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) has been built by researchers at MIT's Lincoln Lab. At its heart is a 1.4 billion pixel (or 1400 megapixel) camera that will scan the night sky looking for rogue near-Earth objects from atop Mount Haleakala in Maui Island, Hawaii. The system uses something called an orthogonal transfer CCD to remove atmospheric blur from images."
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1.4 Billion Pixel Camera To Watch For Asteroids

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  • Pending Doom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tripdizzle ( 1386273 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @01:45PM (#25888477)
    So now we will be able to see asteroids that could slam into our planet and possibly end life, but then what? Hit it with a missile or go Armageddon style on it?
  • Astronomy Magazine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Neuropol ( 665537 ) * on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:03PM (#25888747) Homepage
    I think i just read some thing about this in Astronomy Magazine from earlier this year. The sensitivity and rapid ability to shoot large areas in a short amount of time will allow for this telescope to scan and record the entire Hawaiian skies every 3 days in search of Asteroids, Supernovae, and other phenomenon.
  • What kind of lenses? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by qwertphobia ( 825473 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:26PM (#25889087)

    I bet it has no practical depth of field, even when stopped down to f/64. Wonder what the pixel density is...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @02:27PM (#25889117)

    http://pan-starrs.ifa.hawaii.edu/public/design-features/camera-small.htm [hawaii.edu]

    which is two clicks away from one of the links in the story, has lots of photos of the camera, including the one ol' Rolly is using to bring saps to his weblog

  • by Falkkin ( 97268 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @03:10PM (#25889673) Homepage

    http://gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=5322 [gigapan.org]

    5.3 gigapixel image of Hanauma Bay in Hawaii.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @04:57PM (#25891255)

    Correcting a slight mistatement in the blurb... Lincoln Labs is supplying the orthoganal transfer array CCDs for Pan-STARRS (nutshell: move charge around on the chip to help adjust for "wobbly" atmosphere. Keep all the electrons produced by a single object together, instead of smeared out.) The system as a whole is being built by the Institute for Astronomy, U. Hawaii.

    When I read the blurb, I thought, "Surely Lincoln Labs isn't claiming credit for the project..." That would ruffle a few feathers! And I was right... first paragraph of the article on the Lincoln Labs page correctly attributes IfA.


    And while Pan-STARRS' high cadence (it will image any particular region of the sky multiple times over several weeks or months) will be great for detecting transient phenomena (asteroids, supernovae, extrasolar planet transits) it will also produce a deep, multi-band all-sky (ok, sky visible from Hawaii) catalog of great use for the rest of astronomy, as well. It's now becoming possible to have a career in astronomy built on data-mining large surveys like this. Sort through a few billion objects to find a few dozen objects for spectroscopic followup...

  • Re:Pending Doom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:33PM (#25893377) Journal

    Or, given the fact that even the most advanced prediction algorithms still have to cut some corners (therefore leading to some uncertainty)

    Cut corners? You mean along the lines of using type Float instead of Double? More likely the errors are due to natural issues such as sun-light reflecting off the surface of the roid in unknown ways giving it a slight push or imprecise knowledge about Jupiter's gravity profile at given distances. When a roid passes close to a planet, small differences in path can be greatly magnified. Thus any small error turns into a larger error when forecasting past the rendezvous point.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.