Google Inc. has joined a group of 16 universities and national labs that are building the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).
"Partnering with Google will significantly enhance our ability to convert LSST data to knowledge," said J. Anthony Tyson, professor of physics at UC Davis and director of the consortium to build the telescope.
Scheduled to begin operations in 2014, the 8.4-meter telescope will survey the entire visible sky every week, investigating dark matter and dark energy and opening a movie-like window on fast-changing objects such as exploding supernovae, near-Earth asteroids and distant Kuiper Belt objects beyond Pluto.
The LSST will generate more than 30 terabytes -- 30 thousand gigabytes -- of images every night for a decade. The collaboration with Google will aim at organizing, processing and analyzing that huge amount of data and enabling the new discoveries from the telescope to be made available to the public and researchers in real time.
"Google's mission is to take the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," said William Coughran, vice president of engineering for the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet search company. "The data from LSST will be an important part of the world's information and, by being involved in the project, we hope to make it easier for that data to become accessible and useful."
In 2005, Wayne Rosing, a former vice president for engineering at Google, was appointed as a senior fellow in mathematical and physical sciences at UC Davis, working primarily on the LSST project with Tyson.
The LSST research and development effort is funded in part by the National Science Foundation. Additional funding comes from private contributions, in-kind support at Department of Energy laboratories and other institutional members of the consortium.
Founded in 2003, the LSST Corporation, a nonprofit 501(c)3 Arizona corporation headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., includes the University of Arizona, Research Corporation, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the University of Washington, Brookhaven National Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Google Inc., Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Johns Hopkins University, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology - Stanford University, Las Cumbres Observatory Inc., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Princeton University, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, The Pennsylvania State University, UC Davis, UC Irvine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Pennsylvania.
* Large Synoptic Survey Telescope