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RE: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)
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LSST
Latitude: 30°15'17.55"S longitude: 70°44'14.14"W

-- Edited by Blobrana at 21:25, 2006-05-18

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Cerro Pachon
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Cerro Pachón, a 2,682-metre mountain peak in northern Chile, has been selected as the site for the proposed Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).



The decision to place the LSST on Cerro Pachon follows a two-year campaign of in-depth testing and analysis of the atmospheric and astronomical conditions at four sites in Chile, Mexico and the Canary Islands.
The LSST site-selection committee comprised eleven members, and was chaired by Marc Sarazin of the European Southern Observatory. The committee reviewed detailed proposals from two final sites - San Pedro Mártir in Baja California, Mexico, and Cerro Pachon, regarding their suitability for the project.

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A mountain peak in Chile has been chosen as home for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a Tucson-based project that will be able to scan the entire visible sky every three nights.
The world's most powerful survey telescope, the LSST will join the existing Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, on Cerro Pachón, an 8,800-foot peak in northern Chile.
The LSST project, led by a Tucson-headquartered consortium formed by the University of Arizona, Research Corporation, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and the University of Washington, should be under construction by 2009, with a completion date in 2012.

According to Donald Sweeney, LSST project manager, the 8.4-meter telescope will be 50 times more powerful than any survey telescope, with the capability to image the entire visible sky in just days, instead of years as current scopes can.

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IN May of this year, Wayne Rosing was named the first senior fellow in mathematical and physical sciences at the University of California.



As part of the position, Rosing will work with Anthony Tyson, a physics professor at UC Davis, on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).
The LSST will be a ground-based telescope that combines a wide field of view and an extremely sensitive digital camera—capable of producing 3,000 megapixel images—to provide scientists with a new way of looking at the universe. The LSST is expected to be ready for first light by 2012.
While Rosing’s exact duties are still being determined, Rosing’s background will be very useful for extracting knowledge and understanding from the deluge of information expected to pour in from the telescope each night.
The LSST was initially conceived in 1998 as a way to map asteroids and other space objects that stray too close to earth, but its mission was expanded to search for clues about the nature of dark matter and dark energy, a mysterious substance and force that are believed to permeate the universe but which scientists know very little about.



"The (LSST) will help us understand the development of dark matter over cosmic time and help us pin down the nature of dark energy" - Anthony Tyson.
It will do this by scanning the universe for evidence of gravity lensing, a process by which a massive celestial object warps the fabric of space-time so much that light streaming from distant objects are forced to bend around it. As a result, gravitational mirages are produced, whereby distant luminous objects, like stars or even entire galaxies, are distorted or appear to shift their positions. Stranger still, they may be projected multiple times upon the night sky.

Using gravitational lensing, astronomers can examine objects that would normally be hidden from view, obstructed by the object that is acting as the lens. This allows them to peer deeper into the universe—and thus, father back in time—than would otherwise be possible. Furthermore, by working backwards and asking what kind of object might be causing the observed distortion; astronomers can glean information about the lensing bodies themselves, which can include galaxy clusters and dark matter.
"A clump of dark matter will have mass, and if it is a big enough clump, it will have a big mass and will actually bend light from the background, moving it to new places in the sky," - Anthony Tyson.

By measuring the amount of distortion caused by dark matter as a result of gravity lensing, scientists can map its distribution in the universe and tell something about how it developed over the eons.
The LSST is also expected to shed some light on dark energy, the mysterious force believed to be wrenching the universe apart and speeding up its expansion. Information gathered from the LSST will be used to construct a 3D map of the universe, complete with the precise location of billions of galaxies.
Measuring the speed at which these galaxies are speeding away from each other over time will give scientists an idea of how much dark energy the universe contains.
The LSST will also be able to detect transient sources of luminosity, brief flashes of light that flare in and out of existence too quickly for most telescopes to pick up clearly.
"I’m personally interested in how we are going to systematically classify all these (transient) phenomenon and figure out what the universe is telling us," - Wayne Rosing.

Because the LSST will be capable of covering the entire night sky once every three days, each patch of sky will be revisited numerous times. This will allow scientists to survey the universe on time scales that were previously impossible.

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