Spring 2018 Newsletter

LSST Begins Pre-Commissioning Preparations

Telescope Enclosure, Cerro Pachón, Chile – Dec 2017

LSST construction teams are making great strides, and the summit building is beginning to look like the renderings. Subsystems testing is underway. This is a critical stage in the Construction Phase and one that indicates the Project is moving towards assembly, integration, and validation of requirements and beginning pre-commissioning preparations.

Shipping arrangements are underway as well, with over $100M worth of cargo to be shipped to the summit in Chile. Project staff are working on a Tactical Commissioning Plan with a review scheduled to occur in July 2018. It looks like 2018 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for LSST.

With an eye toward Operations, the LSST Project submitted a proposal to the federal agencies last summer presenting plans for operating the LSST. Recognizing that the LSST Operations organization will be an institutional partnership with shared responsibilities, the governance structure was developed by representatives of the three managing organizations: AURA, SLAC, and LSST Corporation (LSSTC).

Inspecting the Enclosure’s Interior Cerro Pachón, Chile – Jan 2018

An LSST Management Board, with representation from each organization, will have joint responsibility for the oversight of LSST Operations. The governance structure was codified in the proposal. NSF is preparing plans and proposals in anticipation of the National Science Board’s approval in July.

During the proposal process, a lot of work went into defining LSSTC’s roles, responsibilities, and scope of commitment. Soon we will enter into the LSST Operations partnership, and with that milestone, we must be committed not only to bringing value to LSST but to be committed to LSSTC’s challenges.  

Assembling Telescope Mount, Asturfeito, Avilés, Spain – Dec 2017

As a funding partner, LSSTC will be responsible for engaging and representing international contributors during LSST Operations. Funds raised from the international community are absolutely essential to the successful operation and delivery of data from LSST during its 10-year+ survey.

Agreements between LSSTC and international institutions provide data rights to the institutions’ scientists and provide LSSTC’s contribution to Operations. By the end of 2017, the list of International Contributors and their scientists and researchers grew to 35 Memoranda of Agreement representing 23 countries and over 1500 scientists and researchers. We are committed to continuing to advocate for international participation and realize LSST’s goal to serve data to a worldwide community.

Investing in Discovery

In addition to partnering in LSST Operations, the other arm of LSSTC’s mission is to enable LSST science through research and education. Over the last four years, funded by a 2015 Match Challenge from Charles Simonyi and Bill Gates, LSSTC awarded $1,487,953.50 for basic science, workshops, meetings, internships, and graduate fellowships. We are now moving to formalize our commitment to Investing in Discovery with LSST science by adding needed resources to the LSSTC’s fund-development initiative.

At the end of 2017, we hired a new Senior Director of Development (SDO), Mr. Daniel Petrocelli, and we are in the process of hiring a Director for Science (DFS) to provide scientific leadership and expertise to LSSTC’s fund-development initiatives. The DFS will work closely with the SDO and the LSST science collaborations to build the case for private donations in the form of a menu of programs with different levels of funding needs highlighting science and education.

Looking Ahead

Dark Energy Schools & Hack Days SLAC – Mar 2017 & Stony Brook – July 2017

It’s important to look back, but continued success will require a commitment to our goals and the willingness to contribute to the implementation of our vision: “Be a unifying force to develop, support, and advocate for LSST science.”

LSSTC is playing a vital role in LSST’s future, supporting LSST Operations funding and providing leadership and management oversight. We now have the resources to proceed and realize our vision of Investing in Discovery and making a difference in science and education. It is critical that we represent and enable the science aspirations of our member institutions and the LSST user community.

Data Science Fellowship Program Session 5 Johns Hopkins University – January 2018
Data Science Fellowship Program Session 5 Johns Hopkins University – January 2018

We deeply appreciate the hard work and dedication of our Board, committees, members, and staff. Without your backing and investment, LSSTC would not exist. We were founded as a membership organization and exist today because of it.

We are grateful for your passion, support, and continued commitment to the future of LSST. We hope you are proud of your involvement and vested in the Corporation’s future, as we need your continued participation and support.


Patricia Eliason                  David MacFarlane
LSST Corporation               LSST Corporation
Executive Officer                Board Chairman