Rubin 2023—Operations Team Takes the PCW Helm

Rubin 2023—Operations Team Takes the PCW Helm

The Rubin Operations team hosted its first Rubin Project and Community Workshop (PCW) in August 2023, after more than 15 years of annual meetings facilitated by the Rubin Construction Project. Construction leadership and many staff members were still active participants in the meeting, but this year’s agenda had a stronger focus on preparations for using Rubin data and other topics of interest to the growing Rubin science community. More than 300 people attended the meeting in person at the University Marriott in Tucson, Arizona, and an additional 160 people registered to participate virtually in plenaries and select breakout sessions.

Rubin 2023 began on Monday, August 7th, with a morning meeting of the Science Advisory Committee, and a block of afternoon breakout sessions followed by the opening plenary session. The plenary featured opening remarks by Rubin leadership, an update on Construction milestones achieved during the last year, and a presentation on workplace culture initiatives. The session concluded with flash talks from half of the 19 undergraduate students attending the conference supported by the LSST Discovery Alliance (formerly known as the LSST Corporation). The students hosted a poster session in the foyer after the plenary ended.

Bob Blum, Director for Rubin Operations, began Tuesday morning’s plenary session with a presentation on progress made by the Operations team over the last year. He also outlined upcoming plans and scheduled activities leading up to the start of the LSST. Then the rest of the undergraduate student group gave their flash talks, and invited attendees to a second post-plenary poster session. On Tuesday evening, conference participants made the short trip next door, to a local restaurant, for a reception. In a repeat of events at Rubin 2022, a summer monsoon rolled in to soak the venue before everyone arrived, but this year was more of a gentle rain than a torrential downpour, and it stopped in time for partygoers to enjoy their food and drinks—and a spectacular rainbow—outdoors.

The Wednesday morning plenary featured short presentations from each of Rubin’s eight science collaborations. Then came four “Lightning Stories” from Rubin team members: Julio Constanzo, Agnès Ferté, Clare Higgs, and Ryan Lau. The plenary was followed by a poster session, with posters contributed by members of the Rubin science community (these posters were on display through Thursday morning). After more breakout sessions, the day ended with four parallel “Unconference” sessions on topics proposed and voted on by conference attendees.

Thursday morning began with the Keynote Plenary Session, featuring two speakers. First, Aaron Roodman, Deputy Director of Rubin Construction for SLAC, gave a talk on the LSST Camera, describing its unique features and the remaining work to be done before shipping to Chile this fall. Then, Dara Norman, NOIRLab’s CSDC Deputy Director, spoke about Rubin’s response to recommendations made in the Astro2020 Decadal Survey report and discussed resources being developed to further promote best practices in research inclusion. Thursday’s well-received keynote talks were followed by another busy day of breakout sessions. A final set of concurrent sessions and a “session summary” wrapped up the meeting at midday on Friday.

This year’s meeting offered familiar opportunities to share work and ideas with colleagues, but many details of the meeting—from the vibrant downtown venue to the advances in Rubin science preparations—signaled a new direction and growing anticipation. The beginning of Rubin science operations is coming soon! Congratulations to the Operations team’s organizing committee for the first in what is sure to be a series of productive annual meetings. Next year’s meeting will be all virtual and will take place August 5-9, 2024.

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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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