SkyMapper is a state-of-the-art automated wide-field survey telescope located at Siding Spring Observatory. Its mission is to robotically create the first comprehensive digital survey of the entire southern sky, providing a massively detailed record of over a billion stars and galaxies, to a depth one million times fainter than the human eye can observe.
To do this, the telescope is equipped with an advanced 268-megapixel camera that was designed and constructed in house by RSAA engineers and technicians. Each image taken with the camera covers an area over 20 times larger than the full moon.
The imaging camera has the following features:
- 32 4k x 2k pixel CCDs
- off-axis guider
- Shack-Hartmann feed
- cooled with closed cycle cryogenic system
- six filter slots
- StarGrasp controller for CCD readout
- 2.34 degrees x 2.40 degrees field of view.
Over the five years of the SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey, the instrument will generate 100 megabytes of data per second during each clear night. At the end of the survey, this amounts to about 500 terabytes of data (equivalent to 100,000 DVDs). The data obtained in this survey will be made freely available to the scientific and general community via the internet.