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What is LSST?

(Photo - KIPAC LSST group) The proposed Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will help determine the properties of dark energy and dark matter. It will record a ten square degree swath of sky—an area equivalent to 50 full moons—every 15 seconds, surveying half the sky every three nights.

These observations will be used to create detailed three-dimensional maps of the mass distribution of the universe on the largest scales. This will enable researchers to study the fundamental properties of dark energy and dark matter, the two mysterious substances that dictate the expansion of the universe.

LSST data will also be used to study supernovae and other transient explosions throughout the universe as well as perform a census of nearby asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth.

Using more than three billion pixels, nearly 1,000 times more than the average digital camera, the LSST camera will pose unique mechanical and data handling challenges.

One-hundred researchers from around the world currently work on the design of the LSST. If approved, the telescope will begin taking data in late 2012.

—Kelen Tuttle
    SLAC Today, March 8, 2006