NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory Launched

October 1, 2019 - The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) are proud to announce the launch of integrated operations of all of NSF’s nighttime astronomical facilities under NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory. LSST Operations is one of the five facilities included in this new organization.

The TMA Arrives at the Summit

September 24, 2019 - The LSST Telescope Mount Assembly (TMA), which was built in Spain and shipped to Chile in August, 2019, has now successfully reached the summit. The enormous structure was disassembled into 26 pieces for transport, and each piece was wrapped in sturdy vinyl to protect it during shipping. The ship carrying the TMA cargo arrived in Coquimbo on September 7th and unloading began the same day—some pieces were placed on the dock, and a few were loaded directly onto the transport vehicles that would carry them to Cerro Pachón.

LSST 2019 Concludes in Tucson

August 26, 2019 - More than 300 participants attended this year's LSST Project and Community Workshop, an annual meeting that brings together LSST Project staff, affiliates, and members of the science community to celebrate successes, report progress, and discuss upcoming challenges. This year’s meeting, held August 12-16 at the Hilton El Conquistador resort in Tucson, AZ, also offered ample opportunities for participants to interact outside of formal sessions, with early-morning soccer matches and board game nights bookending each day of the meeting.

The TMA Sails for Chile

August 20, 2019 - The LSST Telescope Mount Assembly (TMA), one of the last large components of the telescope to be shipped to Chile this year (the LSST Camera will be shipped in 2020), set sail from Spain at the end of July aboard a vessel named Lisa Auerbach.

ComCam Activities in Tucson

August 9, 2019 - Earlier this summer, the LSST Project Office received a special delivery from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory: the commissioning camera for the full LSST Camera. This “miniature” 144-megapixel camera, referred to as ComCam, will be used to test the different systems that will eventually interact with the full 3200-megapixel LSST Camera, allowing LSST engineers and scientists to troubleshoot issues in advance of the full LSST Camera integration. ComCam will also produce valuable scientific preview data that will help the LSST Science Community as it prepares to do science with the much larger LSST data set during Operations.

M2 Coating Completed

July 30, 2019 - If shiny things get your attention, prepare to be dazzled by the newly coated LSST Secondary Mirror (M2)! The mirror received its first reflective coating on July 16, 2019, at the LSST summit facility building on Cerro Pachón. The 3.4-meter M2 mirror arrived on the summit in December 2018, after being shipped from Rochester, NY, where it was fabricated by L3Harris (formerly Harris Corporation). Since its arrival the container holding the mirror has been stored inside the LSST observatory building, on the roof of the camera clean room. Until the coating campaign, the mirror hadn't been removed from the box, although careful inspections of all parts of the mirror were conducted to make sure no damage occurred during shipping.

Summit Update

July 16, 2019 - This is a busy and exciting time on Cerro Pachón, as more large components of the telescope have now arrived at the summit. The LSST Primary/Tertiary (M1M3) mirror surrogate (the steel structure that will stand in for the glass mirror during testing) was transported from the port at Coquimbo to the summit in two pieces—it arrived at the LSST summit facility site on June 28th. The M1M3 mirror cell (the steel support structure for the mirror) stayed at the port in Coquimbo a few days longer, then followed the same route up the mountain, arriving on July 11. Both pieces of equipment were carried by Javier Cortez, SA transport vehicles.

Software Success

June 17, 2019 - The team working on the Auxiliary Telescope for LSST had a big reason to celebrate this week, after completing a series of exercises on Cerro Pachón that demonstrated the successful integration of the telescope's software and hardware systems. The AuxTel (as it's fondly known) is located on a hill about 100 meters (328 feet) from the main LSST telescope, and it will measure atmospheric transmission during LSST Operations.

Raise the Roof

The LSST Vertical Platform Lift Completes Load Testing on the Summit

June 4, 2019 - When it comes to moving enormous pieces of LSST equipment between floors of the summit facility building, an ordinary cargo elevator just won't do. Instead, a heavy-duty, vertical platform lift will carry the assembled mirror and camera subsystems 78-feet (23.8 meters) between the telescope and maintenance floors of the LSST observatory. The heaviest load to raise and lower will be the combined weight of the Primary Tertiary Mirror (M1M3), mirror cell, transport cart—close to 80 tons (72.5 metric tons)!

Data Rights and Funding for LSST Operations

May 22, 2019 - LSST's U.S. public funding agencies, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), have reached a final decision on the way data rights and data access will be handled during LSST Operations.

We are working with AURA, SLAC, and NSF/DOE to understand the new model and will be communicating to you in the next weeks on what this means for the project and operations teams and our LSST stakeholders. We plan to keep you closely informed.


Financial support for Rubin Observatory comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  The DOE-funded effort to build the the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.
NSF and DOE will continue to support Rubin Observatory in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.   

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