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Optical Achievements

Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

October 19, 2021 - The last of the six Rubin Observatory LSST Camera filters arrived at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in September, an event that marked the completion of the major camera components and the end of years of work by engineers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), who designed and managed the fabrication of the camera’s lenses and filters. 

The LSST Camera has three lenses that will focus and direct light from space to the camera’s focal plane. The largest of these lenses, measuring 5.1 feet (1.57 meters) in diameter, was recently added to the Guinness Worlds Records—it’s the largest lens in the world! This lens and its two companion lenses, at 3.94 ft (1.2 m) and 2.4 ft (.72 m), were completed and shipped from LLNL to SLAC in 2019. 

The six LSST Camera filters, labeled u, g, r, i, z,  and y, are some of the largest optical filters ever produced, and will be used by Rubin Observatory to capture images of the sky in six bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from the near ultraviolet to the near-infrared. Each filter is about 30 in (76 cm) in diameter, and weighs about 90 lbs (41 kg). An automated filter exchange system, which was built at IN2P3 in France and shipped to SLAC in 2020, will rotate and switch out the filters in the camera during observations.

With the delivery of the last filter to SLAC, the LSST Camera Major Item of Equipment (MIE) project was formally closed. That’s an exciting milestone for Rubin Observatory; it means that these optical components are ready to be integrated into the LSST Camera—the highest resolution digital camera in the world (another Rubin Observatory world record).

Work on the LSST Camera continues, supported by US Department of Energy (DOE) Commissioning funds. Next steps include final integration of all the camera components and extensive testing at SLAC, and shipping the camera to Chile in mid-2022.  

For more information about completion of the optical assemblies in the LSST Camera, see this press release from LLNL.

Financial support for Rubin Observatory comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  The DOE-funded effort to build the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.
NSF and DOE will continue to support Rubin Observatory in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.   

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