What is Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (Rubin LSST)?

Background – Rubin LSST is a monumental ten-year optical survey of the sky that will begin once the state-of-the-art Vera C. Rubin Observatory is completed on top of Cerro Pachón, a mountain in Chile. 

Timeline – Observatory construction is expected to conclude in 2025, with the first formal data release planned for 2026. Data previews may be distributed in advance.

Funding – Rubin Observatory was built with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), and early private donations through LSST Corporation. NSF and DOE will support the cost of conducting Rubin LSST.

Why is Rubin LSST unique and important?

Revolutionary design and capabilities – The observatory and camera were designed to produce the widest, deepest, and most complete map of the Universe at incredible speed. In its first year alone, it will capture more than all previous maps combined. 

Tracks the changing sky – Rubin LSST will scan the entire visible sky in just three nights, collecting about 800 images of each location in the sky over the 10-year survey. Even more remarkable, it will compare each new image within 60 seconds. Ultimately, it will help scientists understand our dynamic Universe, including moving solar system objects and exploding stars.

Access and data management – The scale, velocity, and complexity of Rubin LSST data require new algorithmic and software approaches on an unprecedented scale for astronomers. It will transform how scientists study the Universe through open access to real-time alerts of observed changes, daily catalogs of solar system objects, and annual data releases with no proprietary period.

Far-reaching science goals – It will help scientists answer fundamental questions about our Universe—how our Solar System formed, the history of the Milky Way galaxy, how the Universe changes with time, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

What is LSST Discovery Alliance?

LSST Discovery Alliance is the independent nonprofit that initiated Rubin LSST more than 20 years ago. Today, our role is to maximize the scientific and societal impact of Rubin LSST. We are committed to changing how science is done and who’s at the table.

What we do – We develop and implement innovative programs and provide funding opportunities to help a diverse community of researchers study data of this unprecedented scale and complexity. 

How we do it – Using our decades-long connections across the Rubin LSST ecosystem, we develop bold programs and funding opportunities that accelerate transformative breakthroughs in astrophysics through inclusion, scientific networks, and interdisciplinary collaboration.  We collaborate closely with Rubin Observatory and LSST Science Collaborations.

How we’re funded – We’re supported by member institution dues, grants from foundations, and donations from corporations and private donors.

How does the Discovery Alliance fit into the Rubin LSST ecosystem?

Rubin LSST – This is the federally-funded (National Science Foundation and Department of Energy) ten-year survey conducted by Rubin Observatory. 

LSST Discovery Alliance – This independent nonprofit develops and implements innovative programs and provides funding opportunities to help a diverse community of researchers study data of this unprecedented scale and complexity. 

LSST Science Collaborations (SCs) – These are self-organized, self-governed communities of researchers who will apply the Rubin LSST data across various scientific disciplines. SCs originally envisioned the scientific opportunities of this survey, presenting them in the LSST Science Book.

Why should an institution become a member of LSST Discovery Alliance?

As a member of the Discovery Alliance, your institution will be well-informed about all aspects of the Rubin LSST ecosystem, positioning your faculty and students for pivotal leadership roles, training, and funding opportunities.

Preferential access to resources

  • Priority access to all LSST Discovery Alliance programs, including graduate student training opportunities, workshops, and software incubator proposals
  • Eligibility to host a prize postdoctoral fellow
  • Eligibility to request grants for LSST-related science and funded student travel

Increased influence and visibility

  • Leverage our work for your institution by helping design future programs
  • Attract faculty and students by demonstrating your commitment to big data in astrophysics
  • Show your dedication to inclusive and diverse scientific discovery
  • Establish a model for multiplying the scientific impact of a federally-funded research facility through private funding
  • Shape plans and programs through the Institutional Board and elected Executive Board

What programs does LSST Discovery Alliance offer?

Catalyst Fellowship – This flagship program is a unique three- to four-year fellowship for post-doctoral researchers in both astrophysics and social sciences.

LINCC Frameworks  – This ambitious program will develop advances in software infrastructure for the scientific community to help effectively analyze the enormous volume and complexity of Rubin LSST data.

Data Science Fellowship Program – This innovative two-year training program develops diverse cohorts of graduate students with the essential skills for science with large, complex datasets.

Summer Student Program – A program for students to attend the annual Rubin LSST meeting, present LSST-related research, and receive professional development.

Science Catalyst Grants – Periodic calls for science catalyzing grants maximize the science impact of Rubin Observatory’s LSST by supporting bold ideas, inclusive participation, and interdisciplinarity.  

Inclusive Collaboration Initiatives – This funded suite of programs incentivizes inclusion through childcare support, best practices in inclusive collaboration, and institutional (Expansion) partnerships.

Science Collaborations (SC) Support – We fund the Science Collaboration Coordinator and provide SCs with communication resources, including a Slack Pro workspace and web pages.

How is the Discovery Alliance supporting diversity and inclusion?

We are changing how science is done, how it’s funded, and who’s at the table.

The Inclusive Collaboration Initiatives will build policies and best practices related to inclusive collaboration into our programs and will help embed those more broadly into the Rubin LSST community. 

The Expansion Partnership Program invites member institutions to initiate a funded partnership with a small or under-resourced institution, with the goal of diversifying our scientific community.

The Childcare Support Program provides flexible grants to offset childcare costs, increasing the inclusion of parents with young children in collaboration meetings.