Farrin Abbott/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, the lab overseeing the design and fabrication of a 3.2-gigapixel digital camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), has successfully received the shipment of what may be the world's largest high-performance optical lens. The announcement was made earlier this month by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where researchers designed the optical assemblies for the LSST.

At this point in time, the 3.2-gigapixel digital camera intended for the LSST is 90% complete, according to LLNL. SLAC has been tapped to manage the subcomponent integration and final assembly of the $168 million camera, which is currently estimated for completion in early 2021.

Image credit: Farrin Abbott/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Ball Aerospace in Colorado and Arizona Optical Systems built the lens assembly for the telescope, including the massive 1.57m (5.1ft) diameter L-1 optical lens and the smaller 1.2 (3.9ft) L-2 lens. According to LLNL, the L-1 is likely the largest high-performance optical lens ever created. It took around 17 hours to deliver the two lenses by truck to the SLAC in Menlo Park. Below are a few images of the delivery from the full Flickr album posted by SLAC:

Livermore physicist Scot Olivier largely credited LLNL optical scientists Lynn Seppala and Brian Bauman, as well as LLNL engineers Vincent Riot, Scott Winters, and Justin Wolfe, for making the massive optical lens a reality. Once fully completed, the LSST will be used to capture digital images of the entire visible portion of the southern sky, according to Livermore, offering what experts anticipate will be 'unprecedented details of the universe.'

Image credits: Farrin Abbott/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, used with permission