Gigapixel Space Telescope Is the Largest Digital Camera Ever

[Photo: European Space Agency]
I can’t wait to live in space where there isn’t any pesky gravity to hold me back and we can start building mega-spaceships. Just check out this massive camera sensor that the European Space Agency is building to see billions of stars for its galaxy-mapping Gaia mission.

The ESA’s largest digital camera ever measures 1 meter by 0.5 meter, with 106 charge-coupled devices, or advanced sensors you would find in digital cameras. The billion-pixel array built by e2v Technologies of Chelmsford, UK is also the most sensitive cosmic detector ever made.

Each panel is smaller than a credit card and thinner than a human hair. Technicians have been working painstaking double-shifts since May, carefully laying four CCDs per day that are spaced less than 1mm apart from each other. The team completed assembling the sensor on June 1.

In the completed mosaic, CCDs are arranged into seven rows and will take stereoscopic images of the stars for the next five years when the mission begins in 2013. Of the 106 detectors, 102 will capture images in 106.5 degrees of view of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond, while the other 4 will maintain the image quality.

[European Space Agency via Popular Science]

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