"Early Science" is defined as any science enabled by Rubin for its community through and including the first data release, Data Release 1 (DR1). This includes the commissioning period and the first year of survey operations.
The Rubin early science program is described in full in the Rubin TechNote RTN-011: Rubin Observatory Plans for an Early Science Program, which has a citable DOI for grant proposals.
Questions? Everyone is invited to post their questions as a new topic in the "Early Science" category of the Rubin Community Forum, where it will be seen and responded to by Rubin staff.
Below, a very brief overview of the planned early science program for Rubin Observatory is provided.
Motivation: Rubin Observatory has created a plan for an early science program in order to enable the science community to:
Data Previews: A series of Data Previews (DP) based on commissioning data are planned to support the community as they develop their LSST analysis software and workflows, and to enable high-impact science as soon as possible.
Template Generation: Due to the need for templates derived from a data release, Alert Production cannot run at full scale nor full fidelity prior to DR1. In order to provide early access to time-domain data products and enable time-domain science, there is a plan for template generation prior to DR1.
Survey Strategy: The Survey Cadence Optimization Committee (SCOC) will make specific recommendations for these early survey observations (e.g., prioritization of sky area coverage). Producing a meaningful and informed recommendation that can be implemented effectively requires the SCOC to interact closely with the Rubin Commissioning and Operations teams. To allow time for those interactions the Early Science recommendations are deferred until later in 2023.
Data Products: A summary of the expected early science data products that would be available as part of DP1, DP2, and DR1 can be found in tables 3, 4, and 5 of RTN-011. Although there remains a siginficant degree of uncertainty in the DP1 data products, the minimal set to expect includes processed visit images and associated catalogs. For DP2 the data products will include processed, coadded, and difference images and the associated catalogs of measurements for sources detected in those images. Real-time alerts will not be immediately available during the commissioning period (see Section 4 of RTN-011 for details). General information about the data products that Rubin Observatory will and will not provide in future data releases are provided in "Rubin Data Products -- Abridged".
Early Science Scenarios: Understandably, there remains some uncertainty in the exact timescales and for the Rubin commissioning phase. There are two scenarios, but importantly, the contents of DP2 will be the same irrespective of which scenario materializes. Only the timing of the DP2 release and the start of survey operations is different. More information about these scenarios are available in Section 2.3 of RTN-011
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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