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The chance of detecting long-wavelength light is increased when it travels through more silicon, so DES CCDs are about 10 times thicker than conventional CCDs.DECam construction started in 2008 and finished in 2011.The Blanco Telescope was constructed in the 1970’s and upgraded for the installation of DECam.Figure 2: Model rendering of the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), showing all the major components: Optics cage (blue rings at lower left), hexapod (white, diagonally oriented tubular structures near center), shutter (white, flat element near top right and above hexapod), filters (green, to right of hexapod), imager (between red boxes at right).The heft and weight of the Blanco’s sturdy structure is important, because it can support the large mass of DECam.The wide-field design of the mirror provides one of the few existing platforms for efficient wide field surveys.DES records images using five filters, spanning 400 nm to 1080 nm.

The main component of the imager is a set of state-of-the-art CCDs (charge-coupled devices), similar to but much more sensitive than those in ordinary digital cameras.

With a 62 cm (24 inch) diameter, these too are the largest filters in use in the astronomical community.

The Hexapod mechanism is a set of six pneumatically driven pistons that actuate to precisely align the optical elements between exposures, to keep the camera in focus and the images as sharp as possible.

Much of the light from extremely distant galaxies and supernovae has been redshifted into long-wavelength red and infrared light, which conventional CCDs do not detect very well.

DES uses CCDs that scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) specifically designed to observe red light from distant galaxies.

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