New Initiative will Advance Science with Rubin Observatory

Photo of Rubin Observatory taken from above by a drone. The observatory has a white dome and a long support building that extends to the left of the dome. The observatory is on a dry, brown mountain top with other mountains stretching into the distance.

August 25, 2021 - Rubin Observatory is pleased to share the news of a major initiative that will result in new software to analyze the datasets from Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). The effort will be led by LSST Corporation member institutions Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington. The Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) at NSF's NOIRLab will collaborate with the team to make the software freely available to the entire astrophysics community.

A Formal Relationship: The Rubin Observatory Science Collaboration Federation Charter has been Ratified

August 10, 2021 - The Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Science Collaborations (SCs) were created in 2006 by then-LSST Director Tony Tyson and the LSST Corporation Board, and since then the SCs have provided invaluable scientific expertise—and a lot of hard work—towards making the Rubin Observatory science vision a reality. Now, a new document has been ratified that formalizes the existence of the SCs and provides details about the relationship between the SCs and Rubin Observatory.

Community Engagement with Rubin Observatory Commissioning Effort

Vera C. Rubin Observatory announces an opportunity for members of the US and Chilean science community to join the Rubin Observatory Commissioning Team and contribute to an efficient and successful transition to Operations. This commitment requires a high level of engagement in return for direct experience with—and a deep understanding of—the full chain from observations to final data products and data access tools that will be released to the science community, including the hardware, image properties, and Science Pipeline algorithms.

Countdown to Data Preview Zero

For astronomers and students waiting eagerly to do science with Rubin Observatory, a milestone that brings everything one big step closer is about a week away: Data Preview 0 (DP0) will be the first in a series of three data previews leading up to the start of the Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). For this data preview, participants will access simulated data using the Rubin Science Platform (RSP). Although a small number of users have been accessing the RSP on an experimental basis, this marks the first time that a wider group of science community members are invited to access the platform, and are provided with a level of service and support.

Bridge Crane Installation

May 17, 2021 - Rubin Observatory now has a permanent, operational overhead bridge crane (OBC) in the dome, thanks to the combined efforts of many organizations and individuals. This 18-ton capacity OBC will be used to continue telescope assembly and system integration during construction, and will facilitate maintenance and repairs throughout Rubin Observatory operations.

Spectrograph Cinema

April 8, 2021 - After on-sky observations resumed in mid-January 2021, the Rubin Observatory Auxiliary Telescope (AuxTel) continued to collect images through the end of March, using the spectrograph mounted on the telescope. These images are being used to test and refine the hardware and software that will eventually enable the AuxTel to help Rubin Observatory produce more accurate data.

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.

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. 

Rubin Observatory at AAS 237

January 25, 2021 - This year's AAS Winter Meeting (AAS 237), originally planned for Scottsdale, AZ, was held virtually on January 10-15th, 2021. As in past years, Rubin Observatory had a prominent presence at the meeting—although without a conference center, an exhibit hall, or chance encounters over coffee, things definitely felt different. Nevertheless, members of the Rubin team made productive use of the online meeting, hosting a virtual exhibit booth, an Open House, and several breakout sessions throughout the week.


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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