Opening a Window of Discovery on the Dynamic Universe

Volume 7 Number 4

Welcome to the December 2014 E-News

With this issue of LSST E-News the LSST Project Office (LSSTPO) steps out as a true construction project, responsible for Building the Future: the LSST observing facility. In contrast, the LSST Corporation (LSSTC) will focus its efforts on Preparing for Science, fundraising, and defining partnerships and plans for Operations. This distinction will become more clear in the coming months with the transfer of the M1M3 mirror from LSSTC to LSSTPO and emerging support from LSSTC for the science collaborations. The LSST Project Office will remain focused on the construction of the LSST facility as detailed in the baseline plan presented to the NSF and DOE federal funding agencies. An exciting milestone was achieved as we go to press…

November 20, 2014 – The 72,620 pound M1M3 shipping container was successfully transported from CAID Industries in Tucson to the UofA Mirror Lab. The 30ft × 30ft oversize load departed at 4am, escorted by four Tucson police cars and two pilot vehicles. Offloading was completed by 5:30am. Once Final Acceptance Testing is completed, the M1M3 will be stored locally in Tucson for final integrated testing prior to shipment to the summit facility in Chile. Additional photos available here.

LSST “Road Show”

LSST Director Steve Kahn and Project Scientist Zeljko Ivezic made a tour of major astronomical institutions in Australia during the last week in October. This so-called LSST “Road Show” came at the request of the Australian astronomical community and allowed that community to interact directly with the LSST leadership in investigating possible Australian involvement in the operations phase of the program. The tour included day-long sessions at the Australian Astronomical Observatory headquarters in Sydney, at Mt. Stromlo Observatory of the Australian National University in Canberra, at Swinburne University in Melbourne, and at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research on the campus of the University of Western Australia in Perth.

Successful CD-2

The LSST Camera Team has just completed a very successful Department of Energy (DOE) Critical Decision-2 (CD-2) Review, an important step in gaining CD-2 approval of the performance baseline. The three-day review was held at SLAC November 4-6, 2014, and centered on a thorough examination of the cost, schedule, performance, and scope commitment to which DOE will execute the project. Reviewers described the team as being “superb”, well prepared, and working well together. “Scientific and technical efforts are exceptionally well balanced and integrated.”


The LSST2014 Project and Community Workshop, held August 11-15 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix, allowed LSST’s distributed technical teams to interact with each other and the broader science community. Sessions covered topics of cross-cutting significance and interest. Also for the first time, the Project shared the week with a concurrent science workshop – the LSST Observing Cadence Workshop jointly hosted by LSST and NOAO. In addition to substantive work to facilitate the transition to construction, the workshop also afforded the many new staff members who have joined LSST in recent months the opportunity to learn the LSST “big picture.”
The LSST2015 Project and Community Workshop will be held the week of August 17 in Seattle.

M2 Substrate Relocation

The LSST secondary mirror (M2) substrate has been safely relocated from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA to the Exelis facility in Rochester, NY. The mirror’s trek, which involved the use of a 50-ton internal bridge crane to load the mirror transport box onto a wide-load flatbed truck and a 70-ton external crane to offload it at destination, covered 604 miles in a little over a day. The truck and pilot vehicle departed Harvard at 1 pm on October 20 and arrived in Rochester at 3 pm on October 21. Subsequently, Exelis personnel have disassembled the transport box and thoroughly inspected the substrate.

New Hires

The LSST Hiring Campaign continues in full force as the project staffs up to meet the demands of the construction effort. Current positions, along with those filled and coming soon, are posted online at The five individuals below have joined the project recently as examples of Top Talent Working in a Team Environment that Inspires Excellence – welcome!

SAC Seeks Input

Now that federal construction on LSST has formally begun, the LSST Project has constituted a Science Advisory Committee (SAC). The committee’s job is to represent the wider scientific community (including the US astronomical community) and to advise LSST Project Director Steve Kahn as decisions are made throughout the LSST construction phase.

Mirror Nears Completion

The LSST monolithic M1M3 mirror blank approaches completion at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. The combined primary (M1) and tertiary (M3) surfaces are seen on the left in this image from July 2014 with the red polishing compound highlighting the active polishing zone of M3. In anticipation of completion, the vacuum lifting fixture (right, September 2014) is being assembled to supply suction to lift the mirror off the polishing cell and lower it into the mirror transport box once the polishing is complete. The fixture will then be disassembled and stored locally until it’s time to reinstall the M1M3 for final optical testing in the telescope cell prior to shipment to Chile.

Andy Connolly’s TED Talk

In March of 2014, UW astronomer and LSST Simulations Lead Andy Connolly was a featured speaker at the Vancouver, Canada, TED Symposium. He describes LSST when talking about “What’s the Next Window into our Universe?”. This talk is now featured online:

“Big Data is everywhere – even the skies. In an informative talk, astronomer Andrew Connolly shows how large amounts of data are being collected about our universe, recording it in its ever-changing moods. Just how do scientists capture so many images  at scale? It starts with a giant telescope…”

TMA Contract Officially Signed

August 13, 2014 – The LSST Telescope Mount Assembly (TMA) contract has been signed by AURA and vendor GHESA Ingeniería y Tecnología, S.A (in consortium with ASTURFEITO, S.A.).

LSST E-News Team


Suzanne Jacoby (Editor-in-Chief)
Robert McKercher (Staff Writer)
Mark Newhouse (Design & Production: Web)

Emily Acosta (Design & Production: PDF/Print)
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. 
Copyright © 2015 LSST Project Office, Tucson, AZ



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.   

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