Thursday, October 9, 2008

Goodbye to QUEST

Tuesday, September 30 was the last night for the QUEST camera on the Palomar 48-inch (1.2 meter) Samuel Oschin Telescope. The 161-megapixel camera was installed in the spring of 2003 and saw a successful career here at Palomar.

The camera took images that covered four degrees on a side and was used to hunt for a variety of objects including near-Earth asteroids, Kuiper Belt Objects, supernovae, quasars and more as a part of the Palomar-Quest Survey.

On the public outreach front, the camera was used to produce the images for The Big Picture, now on display at Griffith Observatory.

The big headlines came as new discoveries of large worlds were made in the Kuiper Belt. Caltech's Mike Brown offers some comments on the end of his survey on his blog.

Earlier this week QUEST, its computers and some other gear was loaded up into a moving van. The camera is headed for the 1-meter Schmidt Telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

What's up next for Palomar's Samuel Oschin Telescope. It is time to spruce it up for its next survey, the Palomar Transient Factory. The corrector plate has been pulled so that it can be washed. The 72-inch mirror (Yes, the 48-inch telescope has a 72-inch mirror. Perhaps a future blog post will explain that.) will soon be re-aluminized. In a few weeks the 96-megapixel Mosaic camera will be installed.

More on Mosaic and Palomar Transient Factory later. Stay tuned.

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