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LOOK: World's Largest Digital Survey of Universe Released

Dec 21, 2016 05:51 AM EST

Scientists just released in public the largest digital survey of the universe, which they put together for four years. The survey was conducted by the scientists at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, under the Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) project.

"The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys allow anyone to access millions of images and use the database and catalogs containing precision measurements of billions of stars and galaxies," said Dr. Ken Chambers, Director of the Pan-STARRS Observatories in a statementIn addition to surveying stars, the project also looks into other objects in the universe such as potential asteroids and exoplanets.

"Pan-STARRS has made discoveries from Near Earth Objects and Kuiper Belt Objects in the Solar System to lonely planets between the stars; it has mapped the dust in three dimensions in our galaxy and found new streams of stars; and it has found new kinds of exploding stars and distant quasars in the early universe."

"With this release we anticipate that scientists -- as well as students and even casual users -- around the world will make many new discoveries about the universe from the wealth of data collected by Pan-STARRS," Chambers added. The file which contains two petabytes of data -- as big as one billion selfies or the whole content of Wikipedia can be downloaded in this link.

Queen's University Belfast Professor Stephen Smartt, who is Chair of the Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) Science Council, said in a statement, "We've worked on this project for more than five years at Queen's and have found the most luminous distant explosions in the Universe and also nearby asteroids in our solar system.

"It was a fantastic team effort and now we hope the whole science community will benefit from this public release of our data."

According to Science Alert, the Pan-STARRS began operations in May 2010, using a 1.8-metre telescope called Pan-STARRS1 or PS1, which is equipped with the most powerful digital camera ever built -- 1.4-gigapixel digital camera.

The data released this week by the scientists is only the first part. Releases of the other portions of the database will be rolled out in 2017.

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