LSST E-News • Volume 5 Number 2 • October 2012

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October 2012  •  Volume 5 Number 2

The LSST Project has emerged from a busy and exciting summer preparing the technical and administrative aspects of the Project for the final stages of design and construction readiness. In July, the LSST project management transitioned to Victor Krabbendam, who kicks off his contribution to LSST E-News below…

Project Manager’s Corner

More than 260 project, science collaboration, and international affiliate members attended the 2012 LSST All Hands Meeting held August 13-17 at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona. Here, the participants pose for a group photograph on the resort’s Brisa Lawn. (Image Credit: Pete Marenfeld)

I have been on the job for three months now, and I am very excited to be working with a great team on a spectacular project. It is a tremendous privilege to be named the LSST Project Manager. It is already well established that the Project is positioned to address many of today’s compelling questions in astronomy and physics. It will also provide a new paradigm for data intensive science and engineering and will offer countless opportunities to address STEM education. The privilege for me is the opportunity to work with the team of engineers, scientists, and other professionals to derive, build, and commission this observatory. The team has been led by Don Sweeney since 2003, and it is my pleasure to take over and lead this team in making the LSST a reality. Read More...

LSST Science Collaborations: A Look Ahead

Science collaboration team members gather in December 2008 at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories to begin writing the LSST Science Book

Eleven LSST science collaborations have been in place and working actively with the Project for the past several years. These collaborations have been very helpful in developing the scientific arguments for constructing the LSST and determining the science requirements, with authoring the LSST Science Book being just one example.

The LSST Corporation (LSSTC) was founded in 2003 to develop and promote the LSST Project, and the many major milestones accomplished this past year testify to the success of the efforts to make the Project ready for construction. But the primary motivation was and continues to be successfully enabling the great science that LSST will make possible. The LSSTC Board is now increasing its focus on promoting and encouraging scientific activities related to LSST. The scientific community must interface to the Project to provide input on survey strategy, gain familiarity with the LSST data products and the tools needed to handle the immense quantity of data that the Project will deliver, and begin developing Level 3 data products and analysis tools that in some cases will be required to pursue specific scientific programs. Read More...


A 1.2-meter stress lap performs a polishing run of the LSST tertiary mirror (M3). (Image Credit: Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory)

Exciting progress has been made on both the LSST primary/tertiary (M1/M3) and M2 mirror systems. Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory (SOML) has commenced optical polishing of M1/M3, and a formal request for proposal (RFP) bid package was released for the M2 optical fabrication effort.

The M1 and M3 surfaces, which share a single monolithic blank with the M3 positioned inside the M1 annulus ring, are beginning to shine (literally) as they move into final optical polishing. Both surfaces have been generated to rough dimension and located in position via a coarse diamond wheel, removing nearly 5 tons of excess material to allow the steep M3 surface to emerge from within the M1 substrate. Read More...

The LSST Data Avalanche: Astroinformatics Rises to the Challenge

LSST opens the world of data-intensive astronomy, requiring skills in the area of computational and data sciences in order to maximize the opportunities for knowledge. (Graphic: Emily Acosta, LSST)  

Every night for 10 years LSST will obtain approximately 2,000 images of the sky with its 3-billion pixel camera. This corresponds to about 15 terabytes of data daily for 10 years. As the survey progresses, researchers will have hundreds of petabytes of data to access, analyze, and interpret. Adjectives such as “flood,” “avalanche,” “fire hose,” and “big data” are used to describe this onslaught of data. One of the major questions facing the LSST scientists and engineers is how to handle the large and complex data collection that LSST will generate. The Informatics and Statistics Science Collaboration is researching the science and engineering of this challenge. To keep up with the flood of data, researchers will need to develop more powerful algorithms, methodologies, and approaches. Rising to the challenge will enable scientists to undertake new modes of discovery, where data-driven, data-rich science goes beyond traditional science. Read More...

The Borne Identity: There’s No Running from Big Data

Kirk Borne, right, discusses Big Data with G. Jogesh Babu. (Image Credit: Emily Acosta)

Kirk Borne is used to operating on large scales. Once an avid 40-miles-per week runner, the LSST Informatics and Statistics Science Collaboration chair has finished several marathons, run in exotic locales around the world, and captained the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) running team to victory in several corporate challenge running events. Injuries forced Kirk to give up running in 1996, which is appropriate since there’s no running from the rising tide of Big Data in astrophysics. Read More...

Sports: AHM Soccer Title Goes Down to the Wire

Tough, and colorful, competitors at the LSST AHM 2012 soccer tournament. (Image Credit: Sidney Wolff)

When the highly paid soccer players of the LSST project and science collaborations landed in Tucson on the Sunday before the 2012 LSST All Hand Meeting (AHM) tournament began, they realized they would be earning their paychecks that week: with the temperature at 107° F at 6pm, they knew this would be a severe test of their stamina, hydration capacity and ability not to stay up late in the hotel bar every night. Read More...

LSST at IPS: Bridge to New Beginnings

Informal learning centers, including planetaria and science museums, reach a large audience: tens of millions of annual visitors in the US and more than 100 million worldwide. LSST will work with content providers at these institutions to share discoveries and high resolution images with their audiences, an effort that begins with an understanding of their needs. To that end, Suzanne Jacoby, Tim Axelrod (LSST), Mark Subbarao (Adler), and Martin Ratcliffe (Sky-Skan), presented a panel discussion about LSST at the International Planetarium Society Conference in Baton Rouge, LA, July 22 -26, 2012. There were ~750 individuals attending the week-long conference of which ~45% were from foreign countries. Read More...

The LSST All Hands Meeting 2012 Survey Results

Michael Strauss (Princeton University) takes advantage of a quiet outdoor moment during the 2012 LSST All Hands Meeting. (Image Credit: Emily Acosta)

The majority of 2012 LSST All Hands Meeting (AHM) attendees enjoyed a productive week, according to a survey conducted after the conference’s conclusion. However, many survey respondents felt the experience could have been improved with more downtime for impromptu discussion. Read More...

Searching for Answers in all the Right Places

The overlapping partitioning concept developed by the LSST database team. (Graphic: Emily Acosta, LSST)

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) database team has developed an innovative “overlapping partitioning” method for storing enormous amounts of information for rapid access. By overlapping equally sized packets of information in the partitioned sphere, searching for nearest neighbor sources becomes quick and efficient. Further, the technique has been shown to work just as efficiently with increasingly complex systems. The improved algorithms resulting from this innovative architecture will be available as open source software that can be used by a broad spectrum of fields to transform access to large databases. Read More...


LSST is a public-private partnership. Funding for design and development activity comes from the National Science Foundation, private donations, grants to universities, and in-kind support at Department of Energy laboratories and other LSSTC Institutional Members:

Adler Planetarium; Argonne National Laboratory; Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL); California Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University; Chile; Cornell University; Drexel University; Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; George Mason University; Google, Inc.; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Institut de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique des Particules (IN2P3); Johns Hopkins University; Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) – Stanford University; Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Inc.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL); Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL); National Optical Astronomy Observatory; National Radio Astronomy Observatory; Princeton University; Purdue University; Research Corporation for Science Advancement; Rutgers University; SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Space Telescope Science Institute; Texas A & M University; The Pennsylvania State University; The University of Arizona; University of California at Davis; University of California at Irvine; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Michigan; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh; University of Washington; Vanderbilt University

LSST E-News Team:

  • Suzanne Jacoby (Editor-in-Chief)
  • Anna Spitz (Writer at Large)
  • Robert McKercher (Staff Writer)
  • Mark Newhouse (Design & Production: Web)
  • Emily Acosta (Design & Production: PDF/Print)
  • Sidney Wolff (Editorial Consultant)
  • 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.

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