One of the universe's greatest secrets may soon have its picture taken, thanks to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which can record 3,200 megapixel images
While some of the most expensive mass market DSLR cameras in production today boast 21 megapixels or more (such as Canon's EOS 5D Mark II), the soon-to-be in production Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) has the ability to shoot for the skies - literally.
Known as a 'wide-field' reflecting telescope, the Chilean based LSST will eventually boast images as large as 3,200 megapixels, sizes that dwarfs the average earth bound DSLR by a factor of 152, when production on the telescope begins in 2010.
The camera will use a 'prime focus' optical lens plane (usual for a relflective lens telescope), and shoot a 15 second exposure every 20 seconds.
But the LSST's stunning image quality won't just be suited to capturing the rich luminescence of the heavens; it's also just as good at capturing the not-so-easy to see secrets that lurk within and this includes the presence of dark matter, one of the veritable holy grails of astronomy.
Though never captured before by telescopes, dark energy is still a highly theoretical form of energy linked to the rapid expansion of the universe. Its hypothetical existence has been informed by the inference of various space surveys, including a University of Manchester census survey that studied ten years of data to conclude that dark energy may really exist.
Scientists at the LSST are hoping that any photographic hint of the energy (the Chandra telescope has been one of the closet to getting it right), will give the telescope prominence as the world's most incredible photographic machines.
Not only does the telescope promise incredible clarity, but it also hopes to deliver these startling images to the web - in real time - without the usual wait to process the vast amount of data collected for each image.
Space tourist and intentional programming Guru Charles Simonyi and Bill Gates have pledged more than $20 million towards the telescope, in a chance to boost mankind's knowledge of the galaxies.
According to the LSST observatory, the camera in the telescope is expected to take 200,000 pictures or 1.28 uncompressed petabytes. Though we'll have to wait for a while yet: first images are not expected until 2015.