SkyMapper, a newly-launched Australian observatory is playing a key role in the Southern Sky Survey project, a five-year initiative to map and study the observable universe from the southern hemisphere. Yet while Skymapper has the potential to find objects as large as Pluto drifting in our outer solar system and quasi-stellar objects on the far edge of the universe, scientists say the project is equally important because it heralds the arrival of a new era in astronomy -- one where researchers can draw on freely available online data about the universe instead of having to wait months, or even years, for a chance to observe the night sky through a billion-dollar physical telescope. The project is also powered by some serious IT and relies heavily on the open source community to run. It will also create one of Australia's largest databases at around 470 terabytes.
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