As a result of the application of Moore’s Law to pixel detectors, the rate at which astronomical pixel data is acquired increases by about a factor of 4 each year. The emergence of the Next Generation Space Telescope (Webb) and especially the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will serve to increase this factor to ludicrous proportions. In principle a greatly enlarged pixel space should enhance discovery in astronomy and accelerate our learning about the cosmos.
However, human processing of data and human thinking does not scale at all with Moore’s law. While machines have gotten faster this has mostly enabled data to be transferred and stored and Astronomy is in danger of becoming a pixel archive science. This talk will describe the development of this issue from the initial use of CCD cameras in 1981 to their current use some 35 years later.
This talk will all discuss how better algorithm’s and processing is needed to handle this kind of Big Data as well as the opportunities which are now available for various kinds of unique surveys. Throughout this talk and illustrative of the problem will be the constant reminder that the audience is viewing a 1 million pixel projector screen that is projecting images that are at 30-50 million pixels native resolution.