Vera C. Rubin Observatory, as a Federal Government funded project, is operating in compliance with the
Presidential Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.

Operations Updates


August 25, 2021 - Rubin Observatory is pleased to share the news of a major initiative that will result in new software to analyze the datasets from Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). The effort will be led by LSST Corporation member institutions Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington. The Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) at NSF's NOIRLab will collaborate with the team to make the software freely available to the entire astrophysics community.

A significant donation from Schmidt Futures will fund the effort, which will have a major impact on maximizing the science that can be done with Rubin Observatory and the LSST. Rubin Observatory will produce an unprecedented data set through the LSST. To take advantage of this opportunity, the LSST Corporation created the LSST Interdisciplinary Network for Collaboration and Computing (LINCC), whose launch was announced on 9 August 2021 at the Rubin Observatory Project and Community Workshop. A primary goal of LINCC, jointly based at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington, is to create new and improved analysis techniques that can accommodate the scale and complexity of the data, creating meaningful and useful pipelines of discovery for LSST data.

The full press release announcing this initiative is available at this link.


August 16, 2021 - The 2021 Rubin Observatory Project and Community Workshop (Rubin 2021) was held virtually from August 9-13. Although the project office had hoped to host this year’s meeting in person, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic drove the meeting online for another year. On the bright side, the virtual format contributed to a new record for registration—more than 820 people signed up to participate! In addition to multiple daily Zoom presentations, the meeting featured a dedicated Slack workspace for session-specific questions and discussions. Most of the virtual sessions at Rubin 2021 were recorded and are available for viewing on YouTube

The week started with an overview plenary session that included Rubin Observatory Construction status reports from Project Director Steve Kahn and Project Manager Victor Krabbendam. Updates to the Project schedule, based on recent re-baselining activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic, were also presented. After that, parallel breakout sessions covered a variety of technical and science topics, and a session titled, “Building Inclusive Practices at Your Home Institution” offered a forum for discussion and reflection on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Tuesday’s program began with Lightning Stories, five-minute recorded talks in which Rubin Observatory staff members shared details about their roles on the Rubin team. Angelo Fausti, Sandra Romero, Richard Dubois, and Margaux Lopez were featured in this round of talks. The plenary presentation that followed was given by Bob Blum, Interim Deputy Director of Operations, who shared updates and opportunities related to Rubin Operations. 

Tuesday also featured a full schedule of breakout topics, including Rubin Research Bytes (RRB), which are flash talks on Rubin-related scientific research, engineering, or software. These were introduced at last year’s virtual meeting and proved to be a valuable substitute for in-person poster presentations. This year, 37 (RRB) talks were included in eight concurrent sessions. 

Wednesday began with four more Lightning Stories, presented by Blake Mason, Te-Wei Tsai, Carola Gonzales, and Jeff Tice. Next, Federica Bianco, LSST Science Collaborations Coordinator, gave a report from the Science Collaborations (SCs) and introduced the eight SC chairs, each of whom gave a short presentation on their collaboration’s opportunities and activities. 

Wednesday’s breakout topics included the LSST Survey Strategy,  Satellite Constellations, Citizen Science, Cybersecurity, and a DEI workshop on Bystander Intervention. A new addition at Rubin 2021 was a dedicated set of sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, presented in Spanish by members of Rubin’s Chilean team, that addressed a range of technical subjects. 

This year’s keynote science talk, titled, “Science with the Dark Energy Survey,” was given by Dr. Chihway Chang and Dr. Elisabeth Krause at Thursday morning’s plenary. The well-attended talk featured an overview of the experiment and collaboration, and described the breadth of analyses enabled by the DES data set, ranging from solar system science, characterization of milky way satellites, to galaxy evolution and cosmological constraints.

Thursday also featured the first half of an interactive workshop on the topic of systemic racism, facilitated by The BIPOC Project; the organizers hope to offer more workshops like this in the future. Other parallel sessions on Thursday addressed topics including Active Optics, the DM Science Pipelines, Education and Public Outreach (EPO), External Synergies, Independent Data Access Centers (IDACs) and Engaging with Rubin Observatory.  

On Friday, the anti-racism workshop concluded while other attendees explored Photo-z and Crowded Stellar Fields or interacted with the Rubin Science Platform developers in breakout sessions. The meeting then wrapped up with a presentation in which the Session Chairs gave a short summary of each breakout session.

It was a busy and productive week, but who wants a meeting that’s all work and no play? Some informal features that were popular at last year’s meeting returned, including a virtual board game session on Wednesday, and a coffee break Slack channel for meeting and chatting between sessions. A new social opportunity was also introduced this year: a social media and Slack campaign that introduced daily themed prompts for people to respond and contribute to. 

The hard-working Program Organizing Committee, led by Ranpal Gill, and the Scientific Organizing Committee, led by Melissa Graham, contributed to the success of the second virtual Rubin PCW. After so much time working remotely or in small groups, we’re looking forward to being able to gather with our colleagues in person again. Will it be next year? Let’s hope so! Rubin 2022 is tentatively scheduled for August 8-12 in Tucson, Arizona. 


August 10, 2021 - The Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Science Collaborations (SCs) were created in 2006 by then-LSST Director Tony Tyson and the LSST Corporation Board, and since then the SCs have provided invaluable scientific expertise—and a lot of hard work—towards making the Rubin Observatory science vision a reality. Now, a new document has been ratified that formalizes the existence of the SCs and provides details about the relationship between the SCs and Rubin Observatory. This Federation Charter "seeks to recognize those contributions with the establishment of mutually agreed-upon principles, rules, rights, and privileges of the Science Collaborations and the obligations of Rubin Observatory to the Science Collaborations to support their activities which benefit the entire Rubin Community."

The Rubin Observatory/LSST Science Collaborations are independent, worldwide communities of scientists, self-organized into collaborations based on their research interests and expertise. Currently there are eight active collaborations. More information about the Rubin Observatory SCs can be found on the LSST Corporation website

The details in the newly ratified Federation Charter were mutually agreed on by the Science Collaborations and Rubin Observatory Operations leadership, and they provide clear rules for the formation, dissolution, and operations of the self-governed SCs that are or would be federated with Rubin Observatory. The full document is available at this link


Vera C. Rubin Observatory announces an opportunity for members of the US and Chilean science community to join the Rubin Observatory Commissioning Team and contribute to an efficient and successful transition to Operations. This commitment requires a high level of engagement in return for direct experience with—and a deep understanding of—the full chain from observations to final data products and data access tools that will be released to the science community, including the hardware, image properties, and Science Pipeline algorithms.

The anticipated total value-added contribution through this program is approximately 15-20 FTE of effort. This effort will likely be distributed across a larger number of individuals and preferably organized into discrete groups of similar interests and skills, and performed over a roughly two-year period that includes calendar years 2022 and 2023. Financial support associated with this program is limited, and non-Rubin-staff members of the Commissioning Team are generally expected to have other sources of support (limited travel and local accommodation support to enable on-site work at key activity centers in Tucson, SLAC, and Chile can be made available).

Rubin Observatory is committed to providing opportunities for diverse and traditionally underrepresented groups. Letters of Interest (LOIs) should indicate how proposed contributions will align with this commitment (e.g., intent to provide training experience to early career scientists, a staffing profile that will contribute to the diversity of the Commissioning Team, and/or how an inclusive workplace culture will be implemented).

More details, including examples of value-added contributions, the terms and conditions for participation, and the process for submitting LOIs, are available in the Announcement of Opportunity (AO). 

Preparing to do Science with Rubin Observatory

We welcome you to watch one or more of the short introductory-level presentations below, to scroll down and find more about Rubin Observatory, and/or to return to the Rubin Observatory booth in the AAS 2021 Exhibit Hall's NSF Pavilion where we look forward to answering any questions you might have.

The Science Pillars of Rubin Observatory and the LSST

Data Products for Time Domain Astronomy

Annual Data Releases and User-Generated Data Products

The Rubin Science Platform: an Environment for Data Access and Analysis

LSST Survey Cadence Optimization

How to Get (More) Involved with Rubin Observatory

Community Participation in Data Preview 0

Community Engagement and Support for Science
Bilingual in English and Spanish


Financial support for Rubin Observatory comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  The DOE-funded effort to build the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.
NSF and DOE will continue to support Rubin Observatory in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.   

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