• Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Creates Largest 3D Map of the Cosmos

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    The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) has capped off the first seven months of its survey run by smashing through all previous records for three-dimensional galaxy surveys, creating the largest and most detailed map of the universe ever. Yet it’s only about 10% of the way through its five-year mission. Once completed, that phenomenally detailed 3D map will yield a better understanding of dark energy, and thereby give physicists and astronomers a better understanding of the past – and future – of the universe. Meanwhile, the impressive technical performance and literally cosmic achievements of the survey thus far are helping scientists reveal the secrets of the most powerful sources of light in the universe.

    DESI is an international science collaboration managed by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) with primary funding for construction and operations from DOE’s Office of Science…

    According to ScienceAlert, DESI has already managed to catalog more than 7.5 million galaxies. Additionally, it will continue adding a million new galaxies each month. When the scan finally completes in 2026, we’ll have data on more than 35 million galaxies in space. That should provide astronomers with a huge map of the universe to study and dig into.

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      This is one very great achievement in the more than four-millennia long history of astronomy, since the Sumerians, in the part of the Fertile Crescent that is now Iraq, begun to keep records of their observations of regularities in the movements of the Sun, Moon, planets and the celestial sphere itself, to perfect their calendar. As suggested by Alex’s posting, DESI, that is using an optical 4-meter reflector telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, is a truly majestic enterprise:



      But not the only one:



      Existing and planned large constellations of
      bright satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEOsats) will
      fundamentally change astronomical observing at
      optical and near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths. Nighttime
      images without the passage of a Sun-illuminated
      satellite will no longer be the norm. If the 100,000
      or more LEOsats [Low Earth Orbit satellites] proposed by many companies and
      many governments are deployed, no combination of
      mitigations can fully avoid the impacts of the satellite
      trails on the science programs of current and planned
      ground-based optical-NIR astronomy facilities.
      Astronomers are just beginning to understand the full
      range of impacts on the discipline. Astrophotography,
      amateur astronomy, and the human experience of
      the stars and the Milky Way are already affected. This
      report is the outcome of the Satellite Constellations 1
      (SATCON1) workshop held virtually on 29 June–2 July
      2020. SATCON1, organized jointly by NSF’s NOIRLab
      and AAS with funding from NSF, aimed to quantify
      better the impacts of LEOsat constellations at optical
      wavelengths and explore possible mitigations.

      The likely impacts on the DESI project are explained this report.

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