SEATTLE — Google has already planted its flag on Earth, the moon and Mars. The universe could be next.
The Internet search company has struck a partnership with scientists building a huge sky-scanning telescope, with hopes of helping the public gain access to digital footage of asteroids, supernovas and distant galaxies.
"Frankly, I could see the day when they would be our sort of window to the general public," said Donald Sweeney, manager of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST. The project is headquartered in Tucson.
Officials also say Google's technical expertise and vast data-processing capacity will be an invaluable help.
The 8.4-meter LSST is expected to begin surveying the sky in 2013 from a mountaintop in Chile. It will continuously scan space, taking a series of 15-second exposures that allow it to cover the sky every three nights. Officials say the telescope will open "a movie-like window" on nearby asteroids and far-off exploding stars and help explore the mysterious "dark energy" believed to fuel the universe's expansion.