Astronomy Today

Telescope Basics

What are some of the most ambitious astronomical surveys that have been conducted by observatories on land and in space?

There have been many large surveys of the cosmos since the middle of the twentieth century. Below is a list of just a few of the most notable ones.

Notable Astronomical Surveys
Survey Name Survey Dates Characteristics
NGS-POSS 1948–1958 Photographic survey from Mt. Palomar, CA
IRAS 1983 First far-infrared survey of the entire sky
COBE-DMR 1989–1992 First survey of the entire cosmic microwave background
NRAO VLA Sky Survey 1993–1996 Radio survey of continuum emission from VLA, NM
FIRST 1993–2003 High-resolution radio continuum survey from VLA, NM
Hubble Deep Fields 1995, 1998 Multi-day Hubble Space Telescope image of two patches of sky
HIPASS 1997–2002 Radio survey of atomic hydrogen gas from Australia
2 Micron All Sky Survey 1997–2001 Near-infrared survey of the entire sky
Sloan Digital Sky Survey 2000–2005 Digital optical survey from Sacramento Peak, NM
Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2003–2004 Deepest astronomical image ever obtained
Cosmic Evolution Survey 2004–2007 Largest contiguous area surveyed with the Hubble Space Telescope
CANDELS 2010–2013 Most Hubble Space Telescope time ever devoted to a single survey


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