Las Cumbres Observatory & LSSTC Awardees for the TOM Community Development Program

Las Cumbres Observatory partnered with the LSST Corporation and presented a workshop on “Managing Follow-up Observations in the Era of ZTF and LSST.” The event was held at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena last October, and at the start of December, astronomers began observing programs exploiting powerful new tools.

The workshop provided an interactive introduction to Target and Observation Management (TOM) systems and specifically the TOM Toolkit software package developed by software engineers at Las Cumbres Observatory. The TOM Toolkit makes it easy for astronomers to build these powerful systems to support their research. Fifty scientists from all areas of astronomy, representing fourteen nations, participated in the workshop.

The workshop participants were invited to submit proposals for observing time and seed funding to the TOM Community Development Program. The program provides resources to teams who will develop observational follow-up programs using Target and Observation Manager systems, providing the opportunity to prepare for conducting science with LSST alerts and data products. Generous grants from the Heising-Simons Foundation and the Zegar Family Foundation provided funding for the program. In addition to financial support, hours of observing time have been donated by members of the Astronomical Event Observatory Network (AEON): Las Cumbres Observatory, the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope, and the Gemini Observatory.

Directors of the workshop received 33 proposals and selected 15 of those for awards. The selected projects cover a wide range of topics in time-domain astronomy, from LIGO alert follow-ups to microlensing and supernova discoveries. View the complete list of funded projects. Las Cumbres and LSSTC are looking forward to seeing how astronomers make use of the Toolkit to enable their research.

The TOM workshop has successfully engaged the astronomical community in advancing ideas for handling the millions of alerts that will be generated by the LSST when it comes online in 2023. Software generated from the TOM Community Development projects will be particularly helpful as researchers prepare for the coming data-rich era of astronomy.