Washington, Jan 8 : A collaboration between Bill Gates and Charles Simonyi, a former Microsoft developer, could see the development of an innovative telescope that will make movies of the night sky for posting on the Internet.
According to a Discovery News report, while Simonyi would donate 20 million dollars to this project known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which is scheduled to begin operating in 2014 from a mountaintop in northern Chile, Bill Gates would be contributing 10 million dollars.
The money will be used for the construction of the telescope's three mirrors.
Upon completion, the observatory is expected to continuously scan the night skies with its three billion-pixel camera - the largest digital camera ever built, which can take what will amount to moving pictures. About 30 terabytes (a terabyte equals about 1,000 gigabytes) of data are expected every night from the LSST. Google has signed up to manage this huge amount of data.
"LSST is truly an Internet telescope which will put terabytes of data each night into the hands of anyone that wants to explore it," said Gates in a statement. "The 8.4 meter LSST telescope and the three gigapixel camera are thus a shared resource for all humanity," he added.
Unlike most telescopes which hone in on specific targets for study, the LSST will cast a wide net on the sky, imaging sections roughly the size of nine full moons every 15 seconds.
"The pictures will be taken rapidly enough so you can piece them together like a flip book," said Suzanne Jacoby, LSST manager for education and public outreach. "Each spot on the sky will have thousands of pages in its flip book and it easily allows you to see anything that has changed," she added.
The data is expected to be useful for studying a wide range of cosmological phenomena such as dark energy and dark matter, galaxy formation and small bodies in the solar system.