Academic journal article Science and Children

A Digital Survey of the Universe

Academic journal article Science and Children

A Digital Survey of the Universe

Article excerpt

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The world's largest digital survey of the visible universe, recently released to the public, maps billions of stars and galaxies. Scientists have predicted that it will lead to new discoveries about the universe.

For more than four years, astronomers and cosmologists used a 1.8 m telescope at the summit of Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii, to take images of three-quarters of the visible sky. The data they have captured is made up of three billion separate sources, including stars, galaxies, and other space objects. This immense collection of information contains two petabytes of computer data--equivalent to 1 billion selfies or 100 times the total content of Wikipedia.

In May 2010, the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, or Pan-STARRS, observatory embarked on a digital survey of the sky in visible and near infrared light. This was the first survey with a goal of observing the sky over and over, looking for moving objects and transient or variable objects, including asteroids that could potentially threaten Earth.

"The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogues containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies," says Ken Chambers, director of the Pan-STARRS Observatories. …

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