Cosmos Comes to the Web, Thanks to Billionaire

January 17, 2008 12:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Charles Simonyi, creator of Microsoft programs Word and Excel, donates $20 million to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Stationed in Chile, the telescope will allow Web users the world over to explore the night sky at resolutions never before seen from Earth.

30-Second Summary

According to Donald Sweeney, the manager of the project, the LSST will allow stargazers to “find out what's going on everywhere in the sky … no one has ever done that before—not even come close.”

Due to go into operation in 2014, from its base on an Andean mountaintop in northern Chile, the telescope will film the southern sky using a 3-billion pixel camera. The data collected—an expected daily average of some 30,000 gigabytes—will be processed by Google.

The detailed shots will help astronomers study phenomena such as dark matter, a mysterious energy that could hold a key to the origins of the universe.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who donated $10 million to the project, called the camera and telescope “a shared resource for all humanity.”

According to his Web site, Charles Simonyi has long been fascinated by the heavens. “Since I was a little boy, space has captivated me,” he writes.

On April 7, 2007, aboard the Soyuz TMA-10, Simonyi became the world’s fifth “space tourist.” He took off from the steppes of Kazakhstan to dock with the International Space Station two days later.

Headline Links: ‘Movies of the Cosmos Coming to the Web’

Historical Context: The Hubble telescope

Key Player: Charles Simonyi

Opinion & Analysis: Techie philanthropy

Reference Material: The LSST and astronomy

Related Topics: ‘Compute Tycoon Descends from Space’


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines