May 22

LSST Camera Arrives at Rubin Observatory in Chile, Paving the Way for Cosmic Exploration

The LSST Camera is lifted out of its shipping crate on the third level of Rubin Observatory.
The LSST Camera is lifted out of its shipping crate on the third level of Rubin Observatory. Credit: Olivier Bonin/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The largest camera ever built for astrophysics has completed the long journey from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California to the summit of Cerro Pachón in Chile, where it will soon help unlock the Universe’s mysteries.

The 3200-megapixel LSST Camera, the groundbreaking instrument at the core of the NSF-DOE Vera C. Rubin Observatory, has arrived at the observatory site on Cerro Pachón in Chile. The LSST Camera is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science (DOE/SC), and the NSF-DOE Vera C. Rubin Observatory is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the DOE/SC. When Rubin begins the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) in late 2025, the LSST Camera will take detailed images of the southern hemisphere sky for 10 years, building the most comprehensive timelapse view of our Universe we’ve ever seen. “The arrival of the cutting-edge LSST Camera in Chile brings us a huge step closer to science that will address today’s most pivotal questions in astrophysics,” said Kathy Turner, DOE’s Program Manager for Rubin Observatory. 

The LSST Camera — the largest digital camera in the world — was built at SLACNational Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, and its completion after two decades of work was announced by SLAC early in April. This incredibly sensitive camera will soon be installed on the Simonyi Survey Telescope at Rubin Observatory, where it will produce detailed images with a field of view seven times wider than the full moon. Using the LSST Camera, Rubin Observatory will fuel advances — and brand new discoveries — in many science areas, including exploring the nature of dark matter and dark energy, mapping the Milky Way, surveying our Solar System, and studying celestial objects that change in brightness or position. “Getting the camera to the summit was the last major piece in the puzzle,” said Victor Krabbendam, Project Manager for Rubin Observatory. “With all Rubin’s components physically onsite, we’re on the home stretch towards transformative science with the LSST.”

About Rubin

Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a groundbreaking new astronomy and astrophysics observatory under construction on Cerro Pachón in Chile, with first light expected in early 2025. It’s named after astronomer Vera Rubin, who provided the first convincing evidence for the existence of dark matter. The 8.4-meter telescope at Rubin Observatory, equipped with the largest digital camera in the world, will take detailed images of the southern hemisphere sky, covering the entire sky every few nights. Rubin will do this over and over for 10 years, creating a timelapse view of the Universe that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. Rubin Observatory’s 10-year survey is called the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

More information

Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a Federal project jointly funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, with early construction funding received from private donations through the LSST Discovery Alliance. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under the management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). The DOE-funded effort to build the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) is managed by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC). France provides key support to the construction and operations of Rubin Observatory through contributions from CNRS/IN2P3. Additional contributions from a number of international organizations and teams are acknowledged.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.

SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

NSF and DOE will continue to support Rubin Observatory in its Operations phase via NSF NOIRLab and DOE’s SLAC.

Read more on the Rubin Observatory website.