Teledyne e2v to supply sensors for giant astronomical camera

Teledyne e2v has been awarded a contract by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to supply customised Charge Coupled Device image sensors for the largest digital camera ever built for ground-based astronomy.

LSST camera (courtesy LSST project/NSF/AURA)

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is an 8.4m telescope being constructed in Chile to carry out a 10-year survey of the sky to address fundamental astronomy questions about dark matter, dark energy, near-Earth asteroids, transient optical objects such as supernovae, and the formation of our Milky Way galaxy.

Teledyne e2v says it has designed a high-performance customised sensor to achieve exceptional sensitivity and stable performance with an extremely flat focal surface which delivers 3,200 Megapixels of image data per exposure. The camera will incorporate 189 large-area sensors which will be delivered to SLAC for construction into the cryogenically-cooled camera. Approximately one-third of the science sensors have already been delivered in a previous contract phase.

According to Teledyne e2v, the LSST has the largest digital camera ever built for ground-based astronomy and will be one of the world’s most powerful astronomical survey telescopes when commissioned in 2021. The telescope has a novel three-mirror design to provide high efficiency and a wide field of view.

SLAC is building the camera which will record images that cover an area around 49 times that of a full moon. The telescope will capture images of the entire sky every few nights in multiple colour bands that will be used to construct a detailed catalogue of the sky, providing brightness, colour and time variability information at unprecedented depth.

“This telescope and camera will stimulate the astronomy world with a huge survey data set which will be followed by many astronomers worldwide and will set a new standard against which other instruments will be compared,” said Dr Paul Jorden, Astronomy Product Specialist at Teledyne e2v.

The 189 sensors supplied by Teledyne e2v will be built in a custom package that enables all of them to be assembled into a closely-packed mosaic to form the three gigapixel array with minimal lost area and 0.25mm gap between sensors across the 630mm diameter focal plane. The sensors have 16 output channels that enable them to read the image in a few seconds and allow a high rate of image collection.