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Volume 8 Number 1

From the Project Office, April 2015

Spring is the season of new beginnings, and it’s no exception around the LSST Project. Charles Simonyi and Bill Gates have given a spectacular boost to the private fund raising efforts of LSST Corporation with their $1M Challenge Match, a fresh start to the important mission of Enabling Science. Completion of the LSST M1M3 substrate was celebrated in January at the UA Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. The polished mirror has since been relocated to a shipping container for a short journey to a storage facility where it will await a mirror cell and final transport to Chile in a couple years. Control of the Cerro Pachón summit has been transferred to the Summit Facility Contractor as the pace of construction accelerates. The final sculpting of the site and the forthcoming facility construction are viewable in real time from two webcams linked from the gallery. The baseline for fabrication of the LSST Camera has achieved a significant milestone, with “Critical Decision 2” approval from the DOE. Other camera developments include the successful demonstration of the final sensors and electronics in a test camera at Brookhaven National Lab and a successful subscale refrigeration system test at SLAC.

The distributed LSST project plans to come together again this year for its annual Project and Community Workshop the week of August 17th in Bremerton, WA. This is an open meeting; details will be posted as they become known at the meeting web page. Project-focused meetings early in the week will be followed by a Cadence workshop at the end of the week. These two aspects of the meeting will run sequentially this year, not in parallel, in an attempt to avoid scheduling conflicts as much as possible. The Project Staff continues to increase and the LSST 2015 workshop will be another great opportunity to bring the team and science community together.

On April 14, 2015, LSST marked a major milestone, with the traditional First Stone (Primera Piedra) ceremony on Cerro Pachón, Chile. Laying of the first stone is a Chilean tradition marking the construction start for a new astronomical observatory. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, U.S. Ambassador to Chile Michael A. Hammer, NSF Director France Córdova, and Charles Simonyi were among the dignitaries present to mark this start of summit construction. All these activities remind us that the construction start is real and the ten years of design and development that brought us to this point are about to bear fruit. Spring has indeed brought a new beginning to the LSST.

M1M3 Milestone Achieved

In February, LSST achieved a significant milestone with the primary/tertiary mirror (M1M3) – completion of the mirror surfaces’ polishing effort and successfully placing the $20 million mirror substrate in its storage container, where the LSST team will conduct additional integrated testing before final shipment to Chile in the coming years.

On February 13, the LSST Project accepted the M1M3 mirror surfaces without conditions, given their outstanding characteristics and overall expected performance. Acceptance, which marked completion of the polishing effort, followed rigorous testing and analysis jointly performed by Steward Observatory Mirror Lab (SOML) and LSST Project staff.

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 individuals below have joined the project recently as examples of Top Talent Working in a Team Environment that Inspires Excellence - welcome!

LSSTC Celebrates M1M3 Completion

The LSST Corporation (LSSTC) and its member institutions celebrated the completion of the LSST M1M3 telescope mirror on January 10, 2015 in Tucson, Arizona. The 8-meter monolithic primary/tertiary mirror (M1M3) was constructed and spun cast into a single piece of glass in 2008; in the more than 6 years since, the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab (SOML) meticulously polished the two separate figures. The M1M3 mirror is at the heart of the LSST telescope and the celebration marked a huge step toward making LSST a reality.

LSST-French Connection

On March 5, 2015, representatives from the Institut National de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique des Particules (IN2P3), of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), a French public scientific and technological institution, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation (LSSTC), SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, The LSST Project Office (LSSTPO), and The National Center for

Camera Receives Approval

The LSST project has achieved another significant milestone. The baseline for fabrication of the 3,200 megapixel digital camera has received key “Critical Decision 2” approval from the DOE. The LSST team can now move forward with the development of the camera and prepare for the “Critical Decision 3” review process this summer, the last requirement before actual fabrication of the camera can begin.

LSST Site Transfer

LSST Summit Facility general contractor, Besalco, has officially taken possession of the Cerro Pachon site in order to begin the construction effort. Going forward, the LSST site now is an active construction site with all of the consequent safety rules and restrictions in effect. In particular, access to the site by project personnel now must be pre-approved by Besalco. Besalco began work in January 2015, mobilizing personnel and equipment and establishing offices and a warehouse on the summit. They are working with their subcontractor Rocterra to remove the final 20,000 cubic meters of material. Excavation for the telescope pier foundation and construction of the road to the telescope main platform are nearing completion. The platform for the calibration telescope is complete.

Subscale Refrigeration System

Testing of a subscale LSST Camera refrigeration system at SLAC has demonstrated the ability to run reliably for extended periods at consistent, acceptable temperature and power use. During study periods of typically 10 days, the system has run reliably at approximately -128 degrees Celsius with a total load of about 87.5 Watts. The subscale test began in June 2014 in order to simulate more realistic camera geometry and operations.

After beginning the tests using a non-flammable refrigeration mixture designated LSST29-19C, the team later returned to using the original mix, LSST-3N, whose higher hydrocarbon content aids in the transport of oil through the system. This provided more robust performance and improved temperature stability and overall reliability. During the week of December 8, the team tested the feedback control system, used to stabilize the cryoplate temperature. With the feedback control system turned on, cryoplate temperature stabilized at -125C to better than plus/minus 0.1 degrees Celsius, with a total load about 97.5 Watts.

Webcam Offers Views

The Gallery now has a page dedicated to images from a recently reactivated webcam with a view of the LSST site on the Cerro Pachon summit. The images provide a window onto the summit facilities’ construction progress. The web page image refreshes every minute; also available are time lapse animations - one with a series of images captured at hourly intervals and one with each image captured at the one-minute interval.

BNL Demonstrates Test Camera

In early February, a team working on the LSST Camera project at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) demonstrated the first successful operation of a test camera using a “vertical slice” of the final camera sensors and electronics. The test assembly contained prototype CCDs and one 48-channel raft electronic board, all housed in a developmental model of the Commissioning Camera cryostat. The raft sensor assembly was set at -100C, and the electronics sink was set at -10C. Using a variety of optical and electronic stimuli, the team found all 48 channels reading out and meeting critical performance specifications for noise, crosstalk and linearity.

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 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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