To be built in Chile, the LSST is planned to scan the sky on a continuous basis, which should allow "movie-like" looks at the universe. It’s expected to open in 2013, with a price tag of $350 million from public and private funds.
And Google’s putting up how much? That’s not said. Apparently exactly what Google is to do remains undefined. From the press release, we only get:
"The LSST will be the world’s most powerful survey telescope, with vast data management challenges. LSST engineers and scientists have been collaborating with Google on a number of these exciting opportunities. Even though the Universe is very old, exciting things happen every second. The LSST will be able to find these events hundreds of times better than today’s other big telescopes. Google will help us organize and present the seemingly overwhelming volumes of data collected by the LSST," said Donald Sweeney, LSST Project Manager.
"Partnering with Google will significantly enhance our ability to convert LSST data to knowledge," said University of California, Davis, Professor and LSST Director J. Anthony Tyson. "LSST will change the way we observe the universe by mapping the visible sky deeply, rapidly, and continuously. It will open entirely new windows on our universe, yielding discoveries in a variety of areas of astronomy and fundamental physics. Innovations in data management will play a central role."
Naturally, there’s already worries about how Google will potentially ruin space:
But Google’s involvement raises questions about whether it sees the resulting space images as a cash cow, said Stephen Maran, spokesman for the American Astronomical Society. He said, "Maybe they’ll be selling ads next to the Orion Nebula or something."
For its part, Google says:
Google spokesman Jon Murchinson said, "I don’t think we entered into this partnership … with an eye on how do we monetize our participation."
Last month, Google and NASA announced new details of how Google will make use of space data through a partnership they established in in early 2006, including feeding data into Google Moon and Google Mars.