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Kiwis join ambitious star-gazing project

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/06/2016

The Auckland scientists say they hope to use the data to find planets circling other stars and to test theories about the origin of the universe. © AP Images The Auckland scientists say they hope to use the data to find planets circling other stars and to test theories about the origin of the universe. A group of New Zealand scientists have managed to get their hands on the world's largest digital camera as they explore the mysteries of the universe.

Researchers from University of Auckland's physics department have signed on with a global consortium to take part in what is being described as one of the most ambitious astronomy projects ever undertaken.

The research centres around the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a device featuring a mirror the width of a tennis court and equipped with a panoramic 3200-megapixel camera to take photos of the sky.

The telescope, based in Chile, will for 10 years capture photos for a variety of scientists around the globe, and is expected to produce more than 30 terabytes of data each day.

The Auckland scientists say they hope to use the data to find planets circling other stars and to test theories about the origin of the universe.

"We see this as potentially the most important astronomy project New Zealand has ever been involved with and we are extremely excited to be part of it," Head of Physics Richard Easther said.

The agreement with the LSST consortium will also allow other New Zealand scientists to join the programme.

The LSST, a joint US and Chilean project, is expected to be completed in 2019 and running fully from 2021.

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