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March 2012  •  Volume 4 Number 4

Project Office Update

March 2012

The Project Office in Tucson keeps busy managing technical aspects of the project and keeping LSST on track for a construction start. An AURA/LSST Design and Development proposal for the final design phase was officially submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in January. This proposed funding would support the project for 36 months or until construction funding begins, whichever comes first. We were pleased to see LSST included by name in the President’s FY13 budget request released in mid-February. LSST was given a proposed funding level of $7.5M in the NSF budget and the LSST camera is listed as a Major Item of Equipment in the DOE budget, meaning that a fabrication start is being requested. Of course, many things can happen between now and the time that the money is actually appropriated, but at least the starting position for LSST is extremely positive.

NSF visit to Cerro Pachón, January 2012

On January 9 and 10, NSF Director Dr. Subra Suresh, visited La Serena and the summits of Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón. The NSF group traveling with Dr. Suresh included Dr. Ed Seidel (Assistant Director of Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate) and Dr. Anne-Marie Schmoltner (Program Manager, Office of International Science and Engineering). LSST Deputy Project Manager Victor Krabbendam joined AURA President Dr. William Smith and NOAO Deputy Director Dr. Robert Blum in hosting the group as they toured the LSST site and existing telescopes on Pachón. In the image (left), V. Krabbendam describes the LSST facility as it will look when completed while the group stands on the site at Cerro Pachón. Left to right, S. Suresh, V. Krabbendam, R. Blum, and W. Smith. The Gemini (right) and SOAR (left) telescopes are in the background.

In 2011, LSST completed several milestones, each of which makes the LSST project more robust and moves us closer to a construction start. Highlights are listed below:

  • LSST successfully completed the NSF Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in September, 2011. The review panel was “very impressed by the strength of the project team” and concluded that the LSST project met the requirements for PDR with a well advanced design and no design-related issues.
  • LSST successfully completed the DOE Critical Decision 1 (CD-1) Review in October, 2011, the crucial step toward “CD-1 Approval”, the formal decision by DOE to approve the development of the camera for LSST as the appropriate alternative to meet the “mission need” for a Stage IV Dark Energy Experiment.
  • Community participation in LSST continues to grow, with the number of Institutional Members up to 36 and more than 400 (unique) members of science collaboration teams.
  • The LSST Science Council has selected the first four Deep Drilling Fields to be observed with deeper coverage and more frequent temporal sampling than the main survey.
  • The initial excavation of the El Peñón site has been completed (with private funding), creating level platforms for the main LSST telescope and calibration telescope, while also verifying the high structural strength of the rock.
  • The LSST mirrors are well advanced. M1/M3 is undergoing final abrasive grinding and metrology equipment has been developed to support the upcoming  polishing. This work, and the already completed M2 substrate were accomplished with private funding.
  • Two vendors have fabricated fully-operable prototype sensors, and the major specifications for flatness, sensitivity, and noise performance have been met. The project has also received explicit filter coating performance curves that are consistent with LSST requirements.
  • Data Management will invest in the Santiago, Chile – Miami, US Research and Education Network (REN) to achieve data transmission bandwidths sufficient to lower operations costs through reduced annual lease costs.
  • The Image Simulator and Operations Simulator are fully functioning, providing end to end simulation of the LSST system to support development and validation of hardware and software.

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:

Adler Planetarium; Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL); California Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University; Chile; Cornell University; Drexel University; Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; George Mason University; Google, Inc.; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Institut de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique des Particules (IN2P3); Johns Hopkins University; Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) – Stanford University; Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Inc.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL); Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL); National Optical Astronomy Observatory; National Radio Astronomy Observatory; Princeton University; Purdue University; Research Corporation for Science Advancement; Rutgers University; SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Space Telescope Science Institute; Texas A & M University; 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 Michigan; 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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