Scientists create a 3200-megapixel camera to photograph a head of cabbage

Scientists create a 3200-megapixel camera to photograph a head of cabbage

The camera contains 189 individual sensors, each of which can capture 16-megapixel images

Evgeny Opanasenko

Scientists create a 3200-megapixel camera to photograph a head of cabbage

Techno section editor

Scientists from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have taken the world's first digital photographs with a resolution of 3200 megapixels. The images were captured by a large digital camera intended for the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile, which is now under construction.

It's hard to imagine a photograph containing 3.2 billion pixels. According to a SLAC press release, it will take 378 4K ultra-high-definition TVs to display the entire image in full resolution.

Scientists create a 3200-megapixel camera to photograph a head of cabbage

Full focal plane digital camera with 3200 megapixels

Now imagine that this force will be applied in astronomy. Once the observatory in Chile is operational, the world's first 3200-megapixel digital camera will take a series of panoramic images of the entire southern sky every few days for 10 years.

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Known as the Heritage of Space and Time Exploration, the project will track the movements of billions of stars and galaxies to create the world's largest astronomical film. This next generation observatory is poised to shed new light on the formation of the universe, dark matter, and dark energy.

But in order to test the capabilities of the camera, scientists decided to test it in practice. The first object that was taken for “posing” was a head of Romanesco cabbage, a type of broccoli. Thus, a detailed photograph of the surface of the vegetable was obtained.

Scientists create a 3200-megapixel camera to photograph a head of cabbage

Photo of a head of cabbage in 3200 megapixels

To capture the highest quality image, the team used a tiny 150 micron hole to project the images onto the focal plane. Interestingly, the focal plane must be cooled in the cryostat chamber and lowered to -100 degrees Celsius for it to work properly.

Scientists create a 3200-megapixel camera to photograph a head of cabbage

How was the “photo session” of cabbage with an ultra-high resolution camera

The focal plane, which is just over half a meter wide, contains 189 individual sensors, each capable of capturing 16-megapixel images. Each light-collecting pixel is 10 microns wide. The focal plane of the camera is also super-flat – about 1/10 the width of a human hair – for extremely clear and sharp images.

Scientists create a 3200-megapixel camera to photograph a head of cabbage

3200 megapixel camera resolution

The performance of this digital camera is impressive by today's standards. With a resolution of 3,200 megapixels, the camera is able to detect a golf ball at a distance of 24 km, and its field of view is large enough to capture 40 full moons. A telescope with such a camera will be able to detect objects 100 million times fainter than those visible to the naked eye, which would look as if a person were trying to see a candle at a distance of several thousand kilometers.

Scientists hope to get the first images of the sky in 2022, and the project “Heritage of the study of space and time” will last until 2032.

Recall that earlier this year, the giant FAST telescope began searching for life in the universe. Also in early 2020, NASA turned off the space telescope to study the ultracold universe.

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