There are big ideas and then there are big ideas. The Large Synoptic Survey telescope is a massive idea. The proposal is to build a telescope in Chile that will survey the entire sky in just a matter of days, at high resolution.
The team have drafted in Google to assist with their massive data operation. They will be using a 10 square degree field of view camera with a 3.2 gigapixel resolution. Using this device the telescope will output 30 terabytes of data per night! That makes 150 petabytes over the course of one month (source: Astronomy Blog). A petabyte, in case you don’t know is 1024 TB, which in turn are 1024 GB.
Bill Gates is also backing the project with some of his own money, as well as a series of other investors who clearly have been sparked by the ambition and grandeur of this endeavour.
By imaging and then reimaging at such a short interval, this telescope will mean that you can make stop-motion movies of events as they occur in the universe. Supernovae, comet tails, binary stars and anything else with a day-or-longer timescale could be captured as a series of time frames.
The aim is to make all the data publicly accessible by 2013, which will mean a huge step forward in the distribution and availability of images of the universe in which we live.