Posted in astronomy, communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays

Gigapixels of Doooooom!

For all you photography buffs out there, who are interested in the latest and greatest in camera technology (or for those of you who like space photography), feast your eyes on this!

From Discover Magazine:

“To help Earth’s inhabitants avoid the fate of the dinosaurs and the Clovis people, researchers with the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-Starrs) have developed the world’s largest digital camera, which can capture 1.4 billion pixels, to scan the skies for approaching asteroids or comets.”

More from the article

Pan-Starr: protecting us from going the way of the dinosaurs
Pan-Starr: protecting us from going the way of the dinosaurs

What’s mind-blowing to me is not only have the researchers developed a 1.4 billion pixel CCD camera, they have built four, one for each of the telescope’s mirrors. This means we’re talking a combined power of 5.6 billion pixels. No more grainy images of Saturn again, let alone grainy yearbook photos of people.  

Despite the fact that this giganto-telescope got funding in order to protect us from meteors and other insidious extraterrestrial bodies, reading the government’s website devoted to the Pan-Starrs is cute in a way, since they write about it as if it were their child. Their latest headline reads “PS1 discovers its first Supernova.” Awww….

This is quite a contrast to the recent news story about a new planet being discovered in an old grainy photo taken by Hubble over 11 years ago.

“Although the new find is technically confirmation of a previously known planet, the discovery suggests there could be many more unknown planets waiting to be found in Hubble’s archives”

That is indeed amazing to think about all the other things people have missed in old astronomical photographs. And now with the new gigapixel telescope in action, who knows what people will discover, or re-discover.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.