"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.
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 Table 1 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. During commissioning, the aim is to begin routine Alert Production as soon as is feasible (maybe with higher latency; see Section 4 and Table 2 of RTN-011). General information about the data products that Rubin Observatory will and will not provide in future data releases is 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 are different. More information about these scenarios is available in Section 1.4 of RTN-011.