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October 2009  •  Volume 2 Number 3  •  Archive


The Project Office welcomes you to the October 2009 issue of E-News, where we begin a new feature—Science! Each month we will highlight a chapter of the Science Book, describing possible results to come from LSST and how LSST will influence various areas of astronomy. Thanks to Beth Willman and the Milky Way and Local Volume Structure Science Collaboration for starting us off. And speaking of the Science Book, V2.0 goes to press in early October. We expect print and CD copies to be available at the January 2010 AAS meeting and online distribution to begin later this month. Watch for an update.


Pushing the button on the Final Design Proposal. (L-R) Don Sweeney, Daniel Calabrese, Sidney Wolff

On August 17 the LSSTC formally submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation titled the “LSST Final Design Phase,” which will provide substantial support to the LSST project from April, 2010 to the beginning of construction, a period of time between 18 and 30 months depending on the pace of federal action on LSST funding. The Final Design Phase takes the project from the Preliminary Design Phase to the point that construction is ready to begin. It’s also an important precursor for the last major NSF review called the Critical Design Review. Read More...


LSST engineer Joe DeVries sets the air pressure on the pneumatic actuator test stand.

More than a year ago the LSST Primary/Tertiary (M1/M3) monolithic mirror blank emerged from the oven at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab (SOML). Since that time the honeycomb structure has been cleaned out and moved into the large polishing area of the lab where the back surface has undergone months of loose abrasive grinding and then polishing, a process which finished up in early September. Over the next few months, hardware will be installed on the backside of the mirror blank in preparation for turning the blank over and placing it in the polishing cell for another two years of front surface grinding and optical polishing. As we follow this construction path, we gain an appreciation for mirror production as the longest lead time item in building the LSST. It really is a lot of work “just” to prepare a piece of glass to hold a few ounces of aluminum! Of course the hardware that holds the mirror is critical as well, and work on this important element began in earnest this past month. Senior Optical Engineer Bill Gressler describes work underway now in the LSST Mirror Support Hardware Lab. Read More...


Haverford professor Beth Willman, co-chair of the Milky Way & Local Volume Structure Science Collaboration Team.

Just outside of Philadelphia, Beth Willman “runs her life in triage mode,” and does a fine job of it. Balancing a new baby, a new job at Haverford College, and ongoing, professionally demanding research collaborations as well as leading the efforts on the Milky Way and Local Volume Structure chapter of the LSST Science Book keep her life from ever getting boring. Read more...


The models of the Milky Way’s stellar halo show clumps of material tracing the remnants of galaxies that have been accreted and tidally destroyed.

Individual stars in the Milky Way and the galaxies nearby can be resolved by the LSST. These stars then provide a fossil record—a Rosetta Stone—that can be decoded to determine how these galaxies were formed. LSST will revolutionize the study of this fossil record.

The region of space within a distance of about 10 Megaparsecs (Mpc), or 32 million light years, from the Milky Way is called the Local Volume (LV) because, astronomically speaking, it is so nearby. The last decade has seen a renaissance in the study of our own and other galaxies in the LV, based in large part on the multi-dimensional maps provided by the vast numbers of stars cataloged by the Two Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS), Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), and others. This renaissance has revolutionized our view of the Milky Way by facilitating cross-sectional views of its global structure and revealing a vast menagerie of substructures, including a new population of satellite galaxies with a millionth the luminosity of our Galaxy and a halo replete with lumps and streams that betray its formation.

LSST will provide an excellent resource for mapping the structure and accretion history of the Milky Way and LV in a way that the present generation of surveys has only hinted at. LSST is anticipated to catalog over 10 billion stars, 200 million of which we will also have measured photometric chemical compositions. (For comparison, SDSS measured about 50 million stars.) Read More…


The 2009 LSST FaST team at UW takes a break for baseball: Hakeem Oluseyi (FIT), Keri Hoadley (FIT), Julius Allison (Alabama A&M), Andy Becker (UW).

Plans for Education and Public Outreach (EPO) have been part of LSST since the beginning. An EPO section (and budget) was written into the initial Design & Development proposal and an awareness of our EPO responsibilities is pervasive throughout the project. This long-term outlook gives us the advantage of collaborating now with EPO projects that LSST can leverage in the future. Several such projects have had good news recently from the National Science Foundation (NSF) concerning their grant proposals as described below. LSST is keeping an eye on these exemplary efforts. Read more...


LSST is a public-private partnership. Funding for design and development activity comes from the National Science Foundation, private donations, grants to universities, and in-kind support at Department of Energy laboratories and other LSSTC Institutional Members:

Brookhaven National Laboratory; California Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University; Chile; Columbia University; Drexel University; Google, Inc.; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Johns Hopkins University; Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology - Stanford University; Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Inc.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Los Alamos National Laboratory; National Optical Astronomy Observatory; Princeton University; Purdue University; Research Corporation for Science Advancement; Rutgers University; SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Space Telescope Science Institute; The Pennsylvania State University; The University of Arizona; University of California at Davis; University of California at Irvine; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh; University of Washington; Vanderbilt University

LSST E-News Team:

  • Suzanne Jacoby (Editor-in-Chief)
  • Anna Spitz (Writer at Large)
  • Mark Newhouse (Design & Production: Web)
  • Emily Acosta (Design & Production: PDF/Print)
  • Sidney Wolff (Editorial Consultant)
  • Additional contributors as noted

LSST E-News is a free email publication of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Project. It is for informational purposes only, and the information is subject to change without notice.

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