The 870-megapixel camera for space imaging

Your digital camera has got nothing on this model. The Hyper Suprime-Cam in Japan stands 3 metres high and weighs 3 tonnes.

If there was any excuse to start up the megapixel race once again, this 870-megapixel monster would be the camera to beat.

The 3m camera module pictured next to an illustration of a girl standing 158cm tall. It also weighs 3 tonnes. (Credit: Subaru Telescope, NAOJ)

Called the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), it was built specifically for Japan's Subaru Telescope located in Hawaii, which stands at 8.2 metres high. It consists of 116 separate CCD sensors that are operated at -100 degrees Celcius, according to photography blog PetaPixel.

Meaning "unite" in Japanese, Subaru is not only a car manufacturer, but also the term used for the Pleiades star cluster.

The 116 CCD sensors that combine to give 870 megapixels of imaging prowess. (Credit: Subaru Telescope, NAOJ)

The HSC comes with an equally large Wide Field Corrector (WFC) system from Canon. The WFC consists of seven different lens elements to help improve the image quality captured by the Subaru's main mirror, 16 metres below the telescope. In itself, this unit weighs 872kg.

Mitsubishi is responsible for building the focusing motor that allows for adjustments as precise as 1-2 microns, or 1/100 the width of a human hair. All of these tools are used to help the HSC capture areas of the sky to further research dark energy and dark matter.

It is estimated that the improvements from this new imaging system will reduce the time taken to survey a region of the sky to just two years, down from 16 years.

The video below shows a time-lapse installation of the HSC in the Subaru Telescope.

 

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