World's Largest Digital Camera to Watch for Killer Asteroids
The Pan-STARRS telescope snaps 1.4-gigapixel pictures every 30 seconds in a hunt for stellar explosions and planet-destroying rocks.
From its perch atop Hawaii’s dormant Haleakala volcano, the PS1 telescope, which boasts the world's largest digital camera, has begun full-time operations, snapping hundreds of high-resolution photos each day as it scans the sky for space rocks and strange stellar phenomena.
PS1 is the first of several telescopes planned as part of the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, or Pan-STARRS. The telescope will map near-Earth asteroids ranging in size from 984 feet (300 meters)—big enough to cause major regional destruction if one struck an inhabited area—to 0.6-mile (1-kilometer), which have the potential to produce global catastrophe.
“It provides the best early-warning system we have,” said Edo Berger, a professor with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has studied