By DENNIS OVERBYE
Published: January 5, 2008
A project to build a digital camera of cosmic dimensions on a mountaintop in Chile
has received a $30 million boost from a pair of software moguls and philanthropists.
Charles Simonyi, formerly of Microsoft and now chief executive of Intentional Software, said Thursday that he would contribute $20 million to the project, known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or L.S.S.T. Bill Gates
, founder of Microsoft, agreed to give $10 million.
When completed in 2014, the telescope — 330 inches in diameter and armed with a three-billion-pixel detector — will survey the entire night sky visible from its intended perch on Cerro Pachón in northern Chile once every three nights, allowing astronomers to monitor changes in stars and the motions of asteroids and everything else that moves in the sky. It will also allow researchers to map dark matter and the effects of the mysterious dark energy that is speeding the universe’s expansion.