LSST Project News

Vera C. Rubin Observatory – Impact of Satellite Constellations

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 saturate in LSST images and cause residual artifacts in the reduced data, if no mitigations are made.

First Images with AuxTel Spectrograph

February 24, 2020 - At the end of January, the Rubin Observatory Auxiliary Telescope spectrograph made its first observations of astronomical objects on Cerro Pachón! These "first light" images represent real, usable data for Rubin Observatory, and are the results of years of hard work by many people from the Camera, Data Management, and Telescope & Site subsystems, as well as IT and Systems Engineering. The images also represent a milestone for system integration and commissioning for the whole Rubin Observatory construction project–because the Rubin Observatory Simonyi Survey Telescope will use essentially the same software system, the work on the Auxiliary Telescope and all the knowledge gained during the integration process will be critical when it's time to combine the software and hardware for Rubin Observatory.

The Auxiliary Telescope, or AuxTel, is a part of Rubin Observatory and sits on a hilltop close to the main facility. It uses a spectrograph, which was installed in January, to study the effect of the atmosphere on the light coming from distant stars and galaxies. By using these measurements we will be able to improve the quality of the data from the main telescope. This has the effect of eliminating one source of error in our measurements, enabling more and better science.

What's in the atmosphere that will affect Rubin Observatory images? Lots of things are possible, including water, ozone, and aerosols like dust and sea salt. Even ash from far-away forest fires, like those burning in Australia this winter, can be found in the atmosphere over Chile. The Rubin Observatory team will do a detailed study of what's present above Cerro Pachón, and how often conditions change. AuxTel isn't capable of moving as quickly as the Rubin Observatory Simonyi Survey Telescope, but how hard AuxTel will have to work to coordinate its movements with past and future positions of the main telescope will depend on whether conditions in the atmosphere tend to be stable or constantly changing.

On the first night of on-sky observations with the spectrograph, the team started by pointing at the Orion Nebula to make sure that there would be stars and structure in the resulting images. Below on the left is the raw image, without any processing, as it first appeared on the screen, and below right is a roughly focused, longer exposure. These images proved that the telescope and instrument were working well, so the team moved to more isolated stars for more detailed diagnoses, taking dispersed images throughout the night (resulting in the images at the top of the page).

Even though conditions on this first night weren't ideal, the team is excited about this successful test of the AuxTel system, they are now focusing on the fine-tuning that will improve the quality and usefulness of the data. Congratulations to the AuxTel team!

Image credits: Rubin Obs./NSF/AURA

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

Coming Soon - First ComCam Image

February 6, 2020 - The Commissioning Camera for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory is still in the lab at the Rubin Observatory Project Office in Tucson, AZ, where it arrived in June 2019. But it won't be there much longer; it’s undergoing a near-final phase of testing before being packed for shipping to Chile (currently scheduled for late February). The Commissioning Camera, or ComCam, is a much smaller version of the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) with about 1/20 of the collecting area that will be used to test the different systems that will interact with the full science camera during Rubin Observatory Operations. 

Electro-optical testing of ComCam was conducted in the fall of 2019, and now software testing is underway. In mid-January, 2020, the ComCam optical system was successfully integrated with the “quad box,” which contains the utilities necessary to operate the camera. An additional set of utilities, currently at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, will be added once the instrument is in Chile. This will constitute the “Refrigeration Pathfinder, which will allow ComCam to condition and demonstrate the custom-made refrigeration system on the telescope before LSSTCam is installed. Next, the structure will be integrated with a mass simulator, which is currently being fabricated in the instrumentation shop at the Rubin Observatory Project Office in Tucson. The mass simulator will allow ComCam to be mechanically integrated with the telescope and used for testing on Cerro Pachón.

The final milestone that must be achieved before the camera is readied for shipping is a full execution of the hardware and software interface system—basically a rehearsal of every step involved in producing an image with ComCam on sky. From the control software that allows for coordinated operation of the camera, to the pipelines that read out the camera data and send it to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Illinois for processing; the whole procedure must be tested and verified in Tucson before the camera is packed for shipping. The mass simulator will go to Chile by ship, but the more delicate pieces will travel by air. They will be accompanied by sensors that monitor environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and motion, and the data collected will be used to plan the shipment of LSSTCam from SLAC to Chile in 2021.

Watch this space—we plan to share one of the first images produced by ComCam before the camera ships. It won’t be an image of the sky, but it will show that the camera is ready for action!

 

First national US observatory to be named after a woman!

It was announced today that the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will conduct a vast astronomical survey for unprecedented discovery of the deep and dynamic Universe, will now be named the NSF (National Science Foundation) Vera C. Rubin Observatory (Rubin Observatory). The announcement was made today by Ralph Gaume, Director of the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences; Kathy Turner, DOE (Department of Energy) Office of High Energy Physics program manager; and Steve Kahn, LSST Director during the LSST Open House at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA. The construction and operations of the Rubin Observatory and the DOE LSST Camera is a U.S.

2019 in Review

2019 was an action-packed year for the LSST Project, with new milestones reached and more equipment arriving at the LSST summit facility on Cerro Pachón from all around the world. Here’s a review of some of the accomplishments LSST celebrated during the last twelve months: 

Primary/Tertiary Mirror (M1M3) Arrives on Cerro Pachón

Dr. Amanda Bauer Appointed Interim Deputy Director for LSST Operations

Dear Colleagues:

I am delighted to announce that Dr. Amanda Bauer has agreed to take on the role of Interim Deputy Director for LSST Operations, effective immediately.

Amanda has been Head of Education and Public Outreach (EPO) for the LSST Construction project since 2017. As a member of the LSST management team she has demonstrated leadership, ability to organize and build teams, and deliver on project milestones. This fiscal year she will help to support (among other things) the key activity of delivering a successful LSST full survey operations proposal (to be submitted to a joint agency review in April, 2020).

Amanda is committing 25% of her time to this new role while maintaining her focus on the LSST EPO Project effort.

Ruler of the Cranes

November 26, 2019 - Earlier this month, three cranes curved around and over the dome of the LSST observatory on Cerro Pachón, creating a scene that looked like a battle in a sci-fi fantasy movie. The largest of these cranes—a Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1 mobile crane to be exact—is a brand new arrival to the summit. This huge crane has a capacity of 500 metric tons (500T) and when extended it can easily reach twice the height of the LSST Dome!

Dome Successfully Rotates Under Power

LSST Data Rights

Earlier this year a new funding model for LSST operations was announced. Since then the team has been working hard to flesh out the details of the model. Part of that work was to set up a process to get proposals from current International Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) holders. We're please to announce that this process is now being kicked off!

Timeline

October 31, 2019

Invitation to current MOA holders and interested groups

November 22, 2019

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.

Pages

Financial support for LSST 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 LSST 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 LSST camera 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 LSST in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.


Contact   |   Employment   |   LSST Corporation

Admin Login

Back to Top