Saturday, March 7, 2009
The World's Hardest-Working Telescope
By precisely mapping a volume of space 5 billion light-years in diameter, the Sloan telescope is answering some of the universe's biggest questions.
Located 9,200 feet above sea level, atop the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope cannot match the incredibly sharp vision of the Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits above Earth’s blurring atmosphere. And, at a modest 2.5 meters (8 feet) across, the Sloan telescope’s main mirror cannot see the incredibly dim objects that the 10-meter (33-foot) Keck telescopes in Hawaii can. What the Sloan telescope does have in spades is a voracious appetite for sky—an appetite that is producing some of the most amazing discoveries in astronomy.
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