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Advanced Astronomy Imaging Technology

Dr. Bern Kosicki, MIT Lincoln Laboratory
Tuesday, April 17 SB110

The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) is an innovative wide-field imaging facility developed at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy.

The combination of four relatively small mirrors (1.8 m) with very large digital cameras (1.4 Gpixels each) results in an economical system that can observe the entire available sky several times each month. The redundancy offered by using multiple mirrors to view the same area of the sky also allows for economical use of not-quite-perfect imager chips.

This seminar describes the technology behind the gigapixel Pan-STARRS charge- coupled device (CCD) focal plane developed and constructed at Lincoln Laboratory. This is the largest focal plane ever constructed for astronomy. A second unique feature is the use of the orthogonal-transfer CCD (OTCCD) as the basic imaging cell for this very large focal plane. This is also the first large-scale use of OTCCD technology, which allows compensation of the translational-movement component of atmospheric distortion. The focal plane design enables atmospheric compensation to be individually implemented for each 10 × 10 arc-minute portion of the total 3-degree-wide image and accounts for the exceptional ability of the system to do very accurate astrometry.

The primary purpose of Pan-STARRS is to detect potentially hazardous objects in the solar system, but its ability to map very large areas of sky to great sensitivity and its ability to find faint moving or variable objects make the system uniquely valuable for a large number of other scientific purposes. The prototype single-mirror telescope PS1 is now operational on Mount Haleakala.

One of 64 image cells in the Pan-STARRS camera




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