Subscribe | Unsubscribe



April 2013  •  Volume 6 Number 1

This issue of E-News is full of information, but none more anticipated than this: the President's 2014 budget for U.S. federal expenditures was submitted to Congress on April 10, 2013. Included in that budget is $27.5M for the start of LSST construction in the 2014 fiscal year. See

This amount is consistent with our baseline plan for construction. The budget request is an important and necessary step in the U.S. funding process for Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction Projects at the NSF.

The U.S. Congress must act on appropriations for FY 2014 before any funding becomes available. If funds for LSST are appropriated and if we successfully pass a number of upcoming critical reviews, then our baseline plan calls for initiation of construction in the summer of 2014. This budget announcement will trigger the final steps in the process of establishing construction readiness. We will continue to work with our NSF Program Officer to complete all of the programmatic and technical requirements for a construction authorization.

Sidney Wolff, LSST Director and Victor Krabbendam, LSST Project Manager

New LSST Director, Dr. Steven M. Kahn

Dr. Steven M. Kahn. Image credit: LSSTC

AURA announced on March 12, 2013, that Dr. Steven M. Kahn will assume the role of Director of the LSST Project effective July 1, 2013, succeeding Dr. Sidney C. Wolff. Steve was in Tucson March 13, 2013, and shared the following thoughts with staff informally over lunch.

“First, let me thank you all for joining me today, especially on such short notice. The deliberations over the choice of the next LSST Director have been going on for some time now. We were only notified late on Monday that the decision could now be announced, so I wanted to hold an impromptu ‘all hands meeting’ with project staff as soon as possible just to fill you in on what has been happening, and how I see us moving forward toward the future. Read more...

Science Collaboration Chairs Meeting

Meeting of the LSST Science Collaboration Chairs, March 15 & 16th, 2013, in Tucson, AZ. Image credit: LSSTC

More than 40 members of LSST science collaborations met at NOAO in Tucson March 14 & 15, 2013, to discuss the next steps for the science collaborations as the project transitions to construction, and to define the relationship between the science collaborations and the LSST Project going forward. The Project, as defined by the NSF, is focused on construction, operations, and delivering the data products. Leadership for using LSST data to do science must come from the science community. One purpose of the meeting was to understand “Where do the responsibilities of the Project stop and what is the responsibility of the science community?” Read more...

A Room with a View on Cerro Pachón

The Pachón Summit Hut. Image credit: LSSTC/NOAO

As LSST moves closer to construction, the need for a shelter of some sort on Cerro Pachón has gained in importance. The “Summit Hut” was moved into position in March 2013, to serve as a meeting place to coordinate site activities as well as a safe cover for visitors. The hut is an 8’ by 20’ shipping container, modestly furnished and offering a 12 VDC electrical fixture thanks to a solar power kit. The Summit Hut will remain on the site throughout construction, to offer a warm welcome and, of course, spectacular views. More photos...

Systems Engineering Staffs Up

LSST Systems Engineering Team (L-R): C. Claver, G. Angeli, B. Selvy. Image credit: LSSTC

The LSST Systems Engineering team at the project office has tripled in size recently, as Systems Engineering Manager George Angeli and Senior Systems Engineer Brian Selvy join LSST Systems Scientist Chuck Claver to define, integrate, and validate the incredibly complex subsystems and elements of LSST into a cohesive operational observing facility. Read more...

LSST Camera Team Successfully Tests Electronics Chain

Figure 1: "Vertical Slice Test" hardware at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)

A far-flung team of LSST researchers have recorded a significant milestone in the development of the Raft Tower Modules, the core component of the Camera focal plane. For the first time, a pre-production prototype of the 4K x 4K science CCD has been controlled and read out by a full “vertical slice” of the complete electronics chain. The compact and low-power front end electronics is made possible by a custom-designed CMOS chip set designed by engineers at the IN2P3 labs in France and at the University of Tennessee. The other components of the electronics chain in this mini-systems test come from SLAC (data acquisition system), Harvard (digitizer boards), the University of Pennsylvania (front end analog boards), IN2P3 (firmware), and BNL (cryostat, optics, systems integration, control software). Read more...

LSST’s Role in Planetary Defense

Artist’s conception of a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. Image credit E. Acosta/LSSTC

As the recent Russian Chelyabinsk meteor impact and (unrelated) close passing of Asteroid 2012 DA14 remind us, the Earth shares its Solar System neighborhood with many other moving objects, some of which are potentially harmful to our planet. LSST will play a significant role in planetary defense against these objects. Its large-diameter optics, 3200Mpix camera, and sophisticated data processing system will provide both early detection and orbit determination for fainter and smaller objects at greater distances than currently possible.

NASA’s NEOWISE survey indicates that there are about 20,000 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) with sizes of 100-1000 meters, only 22% of which have already been catalogued. Asteroid 2012 DA14 (~46m) is even smaller, and there are potentially millions of uncharted NEAs that size or larger. Fewer than 10,000 NEAs of all sizes have been identified to date through the efforts of ground-based observatories and space missions. Read more...

Bill Gressler: Seeking Thrills with Roller Coasters, Fly Balls, and LSST

LSST’s Telescope and Site subsystem manager, William Gressler. Image credit: LSSTC

The fateful discovery of the “Institute of Optics” page in the University of Rochester Catalog transformed aspiring biomedical engineer William Gressler into an optical engineer and eventually LSST’s Telescope and Site subsystem manager. “The irony is that if the pages had been stuck together or I had missed that page,” Bill said, “who knows where I’d be now.”

Without that moment of serendipity, he wouldn’t be leading the team responsible for design and fabrication of the LSST observatory facilities and hardware that will capture the light, control the survey, calibrate conditions, and support all LSST summit and base operations. He certainly wouldn’t have met Mick Jagger, to whom he gave a late night tour of the Hobby Eberly Telescope (HET) while working at that facility. Read More...

AURA Workforce Diversity Committee Meets in Tucson

AURA WDC Committee Chair Bernice Durand (University of Wisconsin) is on the right with AURA Center Diversity Advocates and Committee members behind her: S. Bruff (STScI), S. Jacoby (LSST), D. Williams (NOAO), N. Barker (Gemini), M. Hanson (U. Cincinnati), N. Reich (AURA), W. Smith (AURA), K. Stassun (Vanderbilt/Fisk), A. Evans (U. Virginia), and J. Leibacher (NSO). Image credit: LSSTC

Members of the AURA Workforce Diversity Committee (WDC) met in Tucson December 11 & 12, 2012. Here, committee members tour the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab and see the LSST primary/tertiary mirror (M1/M3) on the polishing machine; the M1 and M3 surfaces are clearly distinguishable. The overall goal of the Committee is to strengthen AURA’s role in providing opportunities for underrepresented groups, institutions, and geographic areas to contribute to AURA’s mission and the overall field of astronomy. This will support AURA’s and its funding agencies’ objective of preparing a diverse, globally engaged science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. The WDC meets twice a year face-to-face. K. Stassun will take over as Chair at the April 2013 meeting in Nashville. More information is available on AURA’s website.

LSST Camera Meeting

The LSST Camera Team meeting provided a panoramic big picture through focus on critical path issues and exposure of residual risks. Image credit: E. Acosta/LSSTC

The LSST Camera subsystem hosted a team-wide workshop at SLAC in early November. These semi-regular workshops provide the distributed camera team with the opportunity for in-depth, face-to-face discussions of programmatic and technical issues. A variety of technical topics was covered at the meeting, highlighting those which are especially relevant to the “critical path” for the camera development, or represent areas of residual “high risk” in the camera design.


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 Nucleaire 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 Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; 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 and Fisk Universities

LSST E-News Team:

  • Suzanne Jacoby (Editor-in-Chief)
  • 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.

Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Copyright © 2013 LSST Corp., Tucson, AZ •