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October 2008  •  Volume 1 Number 3  •  Archive

AURA and UCH Reach Innovative Agreement for LSST

LSST Site on Cerro Pachón. Image courtesy of Victor Krabbendam.

The LSST will be built on Cerro Pachón, a mountain located on property owned by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA). AURA is permitted to operate telescopes in Chile because of an agreement reached with the Universidad de Chile (UCH) at the time Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory was established. AURA and UCH, in close consultation with LSST Corp. (LSSTC), have now extended that agreement to cover operations of the LSST. “The goal of all the parties engaged in the negotiation was to ensure that the principles for operation of the LSST would enable full participation of Chilean astronomers in all aspects of the LSST project from planning to analysis of the data,” says Sidney Wolff, LSSTC President.

LSST, AURA, and UCH recognized that because LSST will be used to conduct a large-scale survey with public access to the data, one of the most important resources needed to take advantage of this new facility is access to a major computing center. Accordingly, the most significant part of the agreement calls for the construction of an LSST Chilean Data Access Center (DAC) in La Serena. Chilean astronomers will have preferred access to the resources of this DAC, which will store the most recent LSST released catalogue, the previously released catalogue, the current source catalogue, and at least half of all the raw data. This center will be fully integrated into the Chilean Grid for astronomical computing with links to institutional Chilean astronomy centers. The Chilean LSST DAC will support theoretical calculations related to LSST science as well as archiving and analysis of LSST data and will provide office space for Chilean astronomers who may wish to visit the DAC. If additional computing power is required by Chilean astronomers, the resources of the LSST Chilean DAC can be supplemented with LSST-supported resources in the US. “This new UCH-AURA agreement affords an opportunity for all Chilean astronomers to participate at the highest level in the planning, development, and execution of this unique experiment, which offers the promise to revolutionize our understanding of the Universe”, says Mario Hamuy, Chairman of the Astronomy Department of UCH.

Google Earth view of Chile showing LSST site. Image courtesy of Victor Krabbendam and Google Earth.

With the signing of the agreement, Chile became an institutional member of the LSSTC and a voting member of the LSSTC Board. Astronomers affiliated with Chilean institutions can join the LSST Science Collaborations, and Chile will have permanent full membership on the LSST Science Advisory Council (SAC) and LSST Science Council (SC). UCH is forming a scientific coordination committee (CNSCC) to coordinate Chilean activities and advise Chilean representatives to the SAC, SC, and LSST Board. Chileans will access LSST computational resources through a resource allocation committee (CNRAC), which will work with LSSTC to optimize the use of the Data Access Center resources for the support of Chilean astronomy. AURA, UCH, and LSST will jointly establish an implementation team to manage and oversee implementation of the agreement.

“This innovative agreement will strengthen the existing ties between Chilean and US astronomers, and we are looking forward to working even more closely with our Chilean colleagues,” says Michael Strauss, who heads the science collaborations and the SAC.


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

Brookhaven National Laboratory; California Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University; Chile; Columbia University; Google Inc.; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Johns Hopkins University; Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University; Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Inc.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Los Alamos National Laboratory; National Optical Astronomy Observatory; Princeton University; Purdue University; Research Corporation; Rutgers University; Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; The Pennsylvania State University; The University of Arizona; University of California, Davis; University of California, Irvine; University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh; University of Washington

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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