Opening a Window of Discovery on the Dynamic Universe

About LSST

In this artist's rendition, the LSST primary mirror is seen through the slit of the dome at sunset.


The goal of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project is to conduct a 10-year survey of the sky that will deliver a 200 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 giga-pixel camera, and a data management system.

Telescope & Site

The 8.4-meter LSST uses a special three-mirror design, creating 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.

Data Management

Software is one of the most challenging aspects of LSST, as more than 30 terabytes of data must be processed and stored each night in producing the largest non-proprietary data set in the world.

Public Engagement

Everyone can share in the excitement and discoveries of LSST with planned activities for education and public outreach.

Image Credit: 
Todd Mason, Mason Productions Inc. / LSST Corporation

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). 

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