First LSST Camera Filter Arrives at SLAC

First LSST Camera Filter Arrives at SLAC

Travis Lange/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

March 23, 2021 - The first completed filter for the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera has arrived at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory! The r-band filter was delivered to SLAC on March 12th, marking an exciting milestone for the LSST Camera team.

The r-band filter is one of six filters that will be used in the LSST Camera; each filter is optimized to collect light within a specific range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Each filter is about 30 inches (76 cm) in diameter and weighs about 90 lbs (41 kg). The filters are labeled u, g, r, i, z, and y; each transmits light from a segment of the electromagnetic spectrum progressing from the ultra-violet (u) to the near-infrared (y). The r-band filter, which covers a spectral band near the center of this range, will be one of the filters used most often during the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). It will also be particularly useful for testing the camera because standard optical techniques can be used to verify the optical performance of the camera when this filter is in place.

From its raw-material state to its recent delivery, the r-band filter has acquired an enviable travel record. The raw material for the substrate, procured in New York State, was shipped to Aix-en-Provence, France, where it was shaped and polished. Then, the substrate was sent to Westford, Massachusetts, where the filter coating was applied. From there, the filter traveled to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California to be installed in its frame, and finally the finished filter was sent to SLAC, in Menlo Park, CA.

At SLAC, the r-band filter will be stored in a special container until the rest of the filters arrive. This is the same storage container that will be used at the Rubin Observatory in Chile, to safely store filters that are not in use, since the filter carousel can only accommodate five of the six filters at any given time. The other filters will arrive at SLAC over the next couple of months; two are currently being installed in their frames at LLNL, and the other three are still with the coating vendor. Installation of all the filters in the filter exchanger, which is also at SLAC, is expected to take place at the end of 2021. After thorough testing, the camera and all its components, including the filters, will be meticulously packed and shipped to Chile in early 2022.

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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