LSST’s mission is to build a well-understood system that provides a vast astronomical dataset for unprecedented discovery of the deep and dynamic universe.
The goal of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project is to conduct a 10-year survey of the sky that will deliver a 500 petabyte set of images and data products that will address some of the most pressing questions about the structure and evolution of the universe and the objects in it. The LSST survey is designed to address four science areas:
• Understanding the Mysterious Dark Matter and Dark Energy
• Hazardous Asteroids and the Remote Solar System
• The Transient Optical Sky
• The Formation and Structure of the Milky Way
The scientific questions that LSST will address are profound, and yet the concept behind the design of the LSST project is remarkably simple: conduct a deep survey over an enormous area of sky; do it with a frequency that enables images of every part of the visible sky to be obtained every few nights; and continue in this mode for ten years to achieve astronomical catalogs thousands of times larger than have ever previously been compiled.
The construction phase of the project will deliver the facilities needed to conduct the survey: a large-aperture, wide-field, optical imaging telescope; a gigapixel camera; and a data management system.
The 8.4-meter LSST uses a special three-mirror design, which creates an exceptionally wide field of view, and has the ability to survey the entire sky in only three nights. The LSST Summit Facility is located on the Cerro Pachón ridge in north-central Chile. The telescope site is inland and approximately 60 m (100 km) by road from the support town of La Serena, where the LSST Base Facility is located.
The LSST camera must produce data of extremely high quality with minimal downtime and maintenance. In order to take advantage of high-quality images produced over such a wide field, the camera contains over three billion pixels of solid state detectors.
Software is one of the most challenging aspects of LSST, as more than 20 terabytes of data must be processed and stored each night.
Everyone can share in the excitement and discoveries of LSST with planned activities for education and public outreach.
Financial support for LSST 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 LSST 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 LSST camera 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 LSST in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.
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