Ever since photography’s inception in the 1830s, the camera has been recognized for its vast capabilities as a scientific tool. Even our ordinary DSLRs and camera phones are able to capture details invisible to the human eye. However, the imaging devices available on the market are only a small representation of the countless cameras that have been developed over the years. The following are just a few of the most powerful and complex cameras that technology has produced:
Owned by DigitalGlobe, the first camera to have a 25 centimeter resolution. That means that the camera, orbiting around 363 miles above the earth’s surface, captures about one square foot of the Earth’s surface per pixel. Previously, applications such as Apple Maps and Google Earth were relegated to cameras with a resolution of 70 centimeters. The Worldview 3 is equipped with shortwave infrared imaging cameras capable of capturing details hidden by smoke, smog, and clouds.
At 1.8 gigapixels, the Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System is able to track moving objects within an area of 36 square miles at a height of 20,000 feet. Even subjects as small as birds in flight are able to be seen by the Argus. The most amazing part about the camera? It’s composed of just 5 camera chips commonly found in mobile phones.
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)
Currently under construction in Chile, this 3.2 gigapixel camera will be the largest ever created. Using 189 sensors, the massive images collected by the LSST will be used to create a detailed catalogue of the stars and galaxies across the southern sky. Don’t expect to see any images in the near future, though. At the size of a small car, the camera isn’t set to be launched until 2022.
Japanese scientists developed Sequentially Timed All Optical Mapping Photography, believed to be one of the fastest photography methods in the world today. Capable of creating 4.4 trillion frames per second, it would take an iPhone 581.3 years to capture the number of frames STAMP processes in just a passing moment.
Medigus developed this tiny waterproof camera—just 1.2mm across—for endoscopic work. At such a small size, the camera can be swallowed in the form of a pill and transmit live video through the digestive tract. However, the camera has also piqued the interest of NASA. Since the release of Scoutcam, it has been used in experiments at the International Space Station to explore otherwise inaccessible areas.
Whether the camera is the size of a pinprick or a Prius, there’s no doubt that as a whole it has been one of the most influential inventions to ever come around. Some of the images produced in the name of scientific advancement are strictly informative, while others are downright gorgeous. One thing is certain; each pixel we manage to capture brings us just a little bit closer to fully understanding ourselves and the world we live in.
“Digital cameras are getting more powerful and smaller each year with megapixel counts and other features increasing at a breathtaking rate – but step away from the consumer devices and there are some truly amazing devices.”
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