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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.

School's In For Summer

Project Members Learn How to Use Rubin's Engineering and Facility Database

Rubin Observatory Response to Recent Events

**Versión en Español mas abajo**

Dear Colleagues,

In the past couple of weeks, we have witnessed a number of disturbing events in the U.S., on top of the COVID-19 pandemic that we have all been coping with for months now. The murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery have made it unbearably apparent that racial injustice is very much a reality in this country, and that it continues to plague the lives of people of color.

The unrest in the streets is not unexpected, given the systemic and long term inequities many of you have had to endure. This is an unconscionable situation. We stand by you, and we want to convey our empathy if you are fearful for your own safety in light of the current events.

Vera C. Rubin Observatory – Impact of Satellite Constellations

Revised May 19, 2020

Executive Summary

  • Simulations of the Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) observing cadence and the full 42,000 SpaceX satellite constellation show that as many as 30% of all LSST images would contain at least one satellite trail.
  • Nearly every LSST image taken during twilight would be affected by at least one satellite trail.
  • Measurements of the brightness of the current LEO satellites indicate that trails would cause residual artifacts in the reduced data, if no mitigations are made.
  • SpaceX is on track to darken their Starlink satellites to 7th mag, which would enable removal of artifacts in LSST images.

ComCam Progress in La Serena

May 5, 2020 - The Rubin Observatory Commissioning Camera (ComCam) shipped from Tucson, AZ, on March 16th and arrived safely in Chile in early April. Because of the summit construction shutdown (due to safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic), the ComCam team set up an instrument lab at the AURA Base Facility in La Serena in order to confirm that ComCam had arrived undamaged. There was some extra space in the Base Facility Data Center server room for the temporary lab—this solution ensured plenty of isolated space for working, but also made network connectivity to the ComCam and other observatory servers relatively straightforward.


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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