TEA on the Summit

Tuesday, March 2nd was a day for some serious heavy lifting on the summit; the Top-End Assembly (TEA) for the Telescope Mount Assembly (TMA) was lifted by crane into the observatory dome and installed on the TMA. The task was completed successfully and was a highly celebrated milestone for Rubin Observatory.

The lift may have been carried out in one day, but the teams involved have spent weeks preparing for this complex and critical maneuver. You might remember the 500-ton crane that was used for work on the summit before the March 2020 construction shutdown; it arrived back on Cerro Pachón in late February 2021 to assist with a series of heavy lifts, including this one. The TEA weighs approximately 28 tons, and the base of the crane must be stationed outside the observatory building; this lift angle makes the crane’s extremely high weight capacity critical. A detailed lift plan ensured that the massive crane was positioned properly, that the day’s environmental conditions were considered, and that every step of the process was carried out with safety as the top priority.   

On-Sky Again - AuxTel Observations Resume

February 8, 2021 - So far 2021 has been exciting for the Rubin Construction project; after the rollout of new safety procedures, more personnel are returning to the summit and restarting activities that have been paused since the COVID-19 construction shutdown in March 2020. 

2020 Year in Review

2020 wasn’t the year any of us expected, but the Rubin Observatory Project reached some significant milestones despite challenges that affected travel and access to physical facilities. Here are some of the last twelve month’s achievements to celebrate: 

Announcement of our new name: Vera C. Rubin Observatory 

Rubin Observatory Premieres its New Logo

(Para la versión en español haga clic aquí)

Tucson, AZ, December 3, 2020. Vera C. Rubin Observatory is pleased to announce the release of its official logo following the organization’s renaming in December 2019. Formerly known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, Rubin Observatory was renamed, by an Act of Congress, to honor American astronomer Vera C. Rubin, a pioneer in the study of dark matter and an advocate for women in science.

Rubin Observatory Partners with Google Cloud on Interim Data Facility

A visual representation of the Rubin Science Platform in use with a background image of the Rosette Nebula

December 7, 2020 - Tucson, AZ and Coquimbo Region, Chile.
Rubin Observatory has finalized a three-year agreement to host its Interim Data Facility (IDF) on Google Cloud. The Rubin IDF will process astronomical data collected by Rubin Observatory in its commissioning phase, and make it available to the Rubin science community in advance of Rubin Observatory’s ten-year Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). The IDF will allow the Rubin Operations team to become operations-ready and the Rubin science community to be survey-ready when LSST begins in 2023.

Back on the Summit

A small group of Rubin Observatory staff has returned to the summit to restart limited construction activities.

October 20, 2020 - On September 28th, just over six months after the COVID-19 pandemic brought construction on Cerro Pachón to an unexpected halt, the Rubin Observatory team was able to restart limited construction activities on the summit. This “Phase 1” restart was the result of months of preparation and hard work by the Rubin team, all with the goal of ensuring workers’ health and safety as they returned to work. A thorough review was conducted in conjunction with AURA and NOIRLab prior to the restart.

Camera Team Releases First 3200 Megapixel Images

Photo of Vera Rubin, courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science, where Vera Rubin spent her career as a staff scientist. Credit: LSST Camera Team/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory/Rubin Observatory

September 8, 2020 - The Rubin Observatory LSST Camera team at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has released the first 3200 megapixel digital photos taken using the array of imaging sensors that will be integrated into the LSST Camera. These are the largest images ever captured in single shots, and they are a successful test of the LSST Camera’s focal plane, which was completed at SLAC in January 2020. In order to take these photos without the fully assembled camera, the SLAC team used a 150-micron pinhole to project images onto the focal plane.

Recognizing Achievement - AURA Awards Ceremony 2020

August 27, 2020 - The 2020 Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)/Rubin Observatory awards ceremony was held virtually today, recognizing the exemplary work of four Rubin individual staff members and one Rubin team during the past year. The ceremony, which was translated into Spanish in real time for Rubin colleagues in Chile, also highlighted AURA staff members who have reached milestone years of service with Rubin Observatory.

Rubin Observatory's First All-Virtual PCW

August 18, 2020 - Rubin Observatory's very first all-virtual Project and Community Workshop (PCW) took place August 10-14, 2020, and it was a resounding success. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first in-person PCW (then referred to as an all-hands meeting), which was held at the Dove Mountain resort in Tucson, AZ in 2010. That's the year—the week, in fact—that LSST was announced as the #1 priority in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, and the 2010 meeting attendees celebrated the occasion with a champagne toast. The Rubin 2020 PCW might have been a bit short on champagne, but it was by far the most well-attended meeting to date, with more than 700 people registered, representing nearly every time-zone in the world!

EPO User-Testing Goes All-Virtual

August 12, 2020 - Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic isn't slowing down the Rubin Observatory Education and Public Outreach (EPO) team as they continue to develop the Rubin EPO program, which includes a variety of interactive, online experiences. But adjustments have still been necessary; the team was in the midst of a user-testing campaign for its formal education materials—a suite of "Investigations" for teachers of advanced middle-school through college students, and related support materials—when in-person events started to be canceled.


Financial support for Rubin Observatory comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Support Agreement No. 1202910, 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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