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December 2008  •  Volume 1 Number 4  •  Archive

FOCUS ON… Science Collaboration Teams’ Meeting at Friday Harbor

Anna Spitz

Representatives from the ten science collaborations met in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington from December 10th to December 15th to work on the “LSST Science Book” (working title). Zeljko Ivezic, Chair of Science Council, organized the meeting and kept all attendees on the straight and narrow.

Focus On... Figure 1

Science collaboration team members gather at FHL to write LSST Science Book

The University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) are located on San Juan Island, part of an archipelago that lies between the mainland and Vancouver Island. It is about 70 miles north of Seattle. The attendees reached the appointed site at the appointed time via air and ferry. FHL provided cottages for all forty-two attendees, and the meeting convened in the assembly/dining hall with breakouts in various other rooms on the campus.

The idea for an LSST Science Book has been germinating for quite a while. The decision to prepare the book at this time was prompted by internal progress on LSST (the level of simulations, the work of the science collaborations) and external events such as Astro2010, Astronomy & Astrophysics Decadal Survey. The editors hope to produce a public product in mid-April for use by Astro2010. The LSST Science Book will be a living document, however, as well as a reference publication, with updates over the years.

This was a working meeting dedicated to organizing and producing material for Science Book chapters. The science collaborators had prepared for the meeting to differing extents: some chairs had assigned topics and required written elements of the chapters, others arrived with little formal preparation and launched into spirited deliberations on the expectations for their science. Representatives from all ten science collaborations discussed the science they want to pursue with LSST, the overlap of investigations with other collaborations and the simulation, cadence and data management needs for their research.

Ivezic and Michael Strauss, Chair of Science Advisory Council, made sure that the meeting included discussions among the scientific teams and the data management and simulation teams as well as the hard work of writing. Andrew Connolly and Philip Pinto discussed the progress of simulations and varieties of cadence. Tim Axelrod presented details about the data management system. Each solicited information from the science teams about what they need from the simulations and infrastructure to do their science. Dave Burke discussed how LSST will achieve a level of calibration previously unheard of in astronomy. Kirk Gilmore provided an update on the status and performance of filters and sensors. Dave Monet provided a curmudgeon’s view of astrometry with LSST.

The purpose of the book is to lay out the case for doing science with LSST. Teams will identify representative and interesting science that will be possible with LSST, which provides unique opportunities for comprehensiveness and depth of observations.

The Friday Harbor meeting succeeded in eroding boundaries between science groups and boundaries between science and infrastructure groups. While the legacy of the meeting will be the physical book detailing the amazing science plans for LSST, perhaps a more important outcome is the improved communication and collaboration LSST team members will carry back to their home institutions and other collaboration members.


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:

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 for Science Advancement; Rutgers University; SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; 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; Vanderbilt University

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