The deadline for proposals to join an existing LSST science collaboration is March 15, 2013, 5pm MST.



Introduction Description GUIDELINES Instructions Application Collaborations FAQs





This call is open to qualified astronomers or physicists that reside in US non-LSST member institutions engaged in astronomical research.  Scientists at LSST member institutions can contact their local LSST representative to join the science collaborations directly.  In previous cycles the call had also included the opportunity to propose the formation of new science collaborations.  This option is not offered for this call, which just offers the opportunity to join existing collaborations.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a wide-field imaging telescope with an effective aperture of 6.5 meters (primary mirror 8.4 meters in diameter), to be placed at Cerro Pachón in the Chilean Andes. LSST was recently ranked by the Astro2010 decadal review as the first priority for large ground-based projects to be started in this decade. The survey will begin six years after the start of construction. LSST will carry out a ten-year imaging survey over 20,000 square degrees in six broad bands (ugrizy) from 3200 Angstroms to 1.05 microns.  Each region of the survey area will be visited about 1000 times by the LSST, summing over passbands. Individual epochs will reach r=24.7, with combined depth reaching to r=27.7 for point sources. The data will not be proprietary, and will be made freely available. A consortium of research institutions and universities has been working together for the last five years and more to make this project a reality.

The broad science drivers for the project (ranging from the search  for near-Earth asteroids to the characterization of dark energy from  large-scale structure, weak lensing, and supernovae) are presented in detail in the  "LSST Science Book," To develop the formal details of the science, the project initially defined a  series of ten Science Collaborations, whose initial membership was largely drawn from the LSST member institutions. Starting in 2008, members were added to these collaborations on an annual basis from  the wider US astronomy and physics community through an application and review process administered by NOAO. This is the next call for applications from the US physics and astronomy communities to join these collaborations, and take part now in the shaping of the broad science goals of LSST by contributing new expertise, ideas, and analysis techniques.




The tasks and opportunities of the Science Collaborations include:

The real payoff for the Collaborations is to be in an optimal position to use the LSST data as it begins to flow. Moreover, the Collaborations will be able to influence the LSST in decisions on cadence and software as described above. Members of the Science Collaborations will be welcome to attend relevant LSST technical meetings.

It should be emphasized that because the LSST images taken during the operations phase will be made public immediately to the US scientific community, there is no requirement that an individual be a member of a Science Collaboration in order to use these data. However, the science collaborations will in practice be closer to the instrument, software, cadence details, data acquisition, and full simulations, and therefore will understand its characteristics better than will those from the general community starting to work with the data after first light. In addition, as part of their responsibility for validating the LSST data, Science Collaboration members will have access to early engineering and commissioning data.

Given the experience with data releases from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), we expect that many scientific projects based on LSST data and data products will be done by individual or small groups of investigators requiring only limited volumes of data. Such projects may be done quite independently of the science collaborations, in the manner that most archival research is done today. On the other hand, work involving large subsets (especially images) of what will likely be the largest data set in existence will call for new algorithms, novel statistical techniques, and unprecedented resources in band-width and computational capacity. With this in mind, the science collaborations have the responsibility of making sure that the science potential of the LSST is met, and that the projects which will require large volume access are carried out effectively. The collaborations are for investigators who wish to participate in science which will stress the data band-width and computational resources of the LSST facility, and who in turn, agree to contribute substantially to the efforts to realize its science promise.

Just as for other resource limited facilities (such as observing time on national observatory telescopes), membership in the collaborations needs to be competed on merit, and hence the need for proposals competing for membership in the science collaborations. We also offer the opportunity to form new science collaborations. These may be on new topics, as well as for bringing different, novel, and competing approaches to problems for which science collaborations already exist.



The following LSST science collaborations have provided these summaries of their present and proposed activities. These are provided to help potential applicants to the collaborations understand the context into which their proposed contributions would be integrated.




This is the fifth opportunity that we have offered to join existing LSST science collaborations.  Based on our past experience, we can offer some general advice for what makes a successful application.  Overall, there are two critical points that you should address:

  1. LSST is still in development.  You should be clear on how your participation will assist the project with the problems and tasks that it is currently facing during this phase. You are encouraged to contact members of the collaborations to learn more about their program.
  2. The collaborations depend on volunteer contributions from their members.  You need to clearly and credibly identify the time and resource commitments that you can offer at present.

To amplify on these issues, please remember that all LSST data will be public. A successful proposal will address how it enhances the overall program. Applications to join a collaboration are not requests for telescope time, nor solely a justification of the science that you hope to do with LSST. A successful proposal will address how it enhances overall program of the collaboration, being specific on how development of the science program proposed will fit within the overall work that the collaboration needs to do to insure that LSST will deliver useful observations. Conversely, because the start of LSST observations is still several years away, the collaborations are less interested in members whose contributions will only commence at that time. Help is needed now; there will be annual opportunities to apply to the collaborations if you anticipate being in a stronger position to contribute further down the road.

The applications to join or form collaborations will be reviewed by a panel selected from the community by NOAO, which will be informed by remarks from the collaboration chairs on applications directed to their particular groups.  Please note that this panel will be constituted to address the full breadth of science topics spanned by the collaborations, but as such is very likely to be less familiar with the finest level details of any specific problem.  Again, the criterion is the extent to which the overall science goals of collaborations and the development of LSST program will benefit from the near-term contributions that you propose.  Lastly, it should be understood that this is not a pro forma process.  In the past, the review panels have recommended approval of the proposals at about the ~ 50% level.  Proposals that were non-responsive to the issues identified here were not approved.


In order to apply, you will need first to register at With your username and password, you can enter the application form itself at

You will enter the various parts of the application process in plain text. It will probably be easiest to prepare these using your favorite editor, and then cut and paste into the website. Note that the system requires that you fill in something for every one of the windows; if there is nothing of relevance for one of the windows, simply indicate NONE or NOT APPLICABLE in that window.


Application to join an existing collaboration

I. The application has several parts.

1.   Describe your scientific interests and why you want to join this Science Collaboration.

     Please describe specifically what you want to accomplish with LSST data in the context of the science collaboration to which you are applying. Thus this is an opportunity to describe a specific scientific project or area of investigation.

 2.  What aspects of LSST data and/or features of operation do you need to realize your scientific goals?

      Please explain why LSST data are crucial for these scientific goals.

 3.  Will additional data or information (not provided by LSST) be needed to realize your scientific goals?

      Are there data that need to be gathered in preparation for the project you describe? If no such data are needed, simply enter NONE in this window.

 4.   Provide information on your background, skills, and experience that are relevant to the Science Collaboration to which you are applying.
       Describe what specific skills you (or your small group) bring to the problem at hand.

 5.  Provide a quantitative estimate of the level of effort you are willing to dedicate to this work and when that will begin.

      It is expected that each member of a science collaboration contribute their share of the work of that collaboration (as described above in the previous section) early on in the process. 

II. Contributions to the Broader LSST Effort [limit 1 page/800 words]

Those who will be in a position to contribute directly to LSST infrastructure will have a stronger application.

·         Please describe any other ways you think your membership in the Science Collaboration of your choice can assist in the execution of the LSST project and/or increase its scientific productivity.

III. Resources [limit 0.5 pages/400 words]

This section is about your external sources of funding and about telescope resources that you have access to. Again, indicate NONE for any entries for which there is nothing relevant.

Finally, you are able to attach figures to the application. You can save your work, and come back to it (or share the work with your group if you all know the relevant password). When you have completed, click the box at the bottom of the form labeled REQUEST COMPLETED.






How can I learn more about LSST?

There is a great deal about LSST at the project website, http:// A detailed description of LSST science is provided by the LSST Science Book . More science description can be found at and The science requirements document  is a detailed discussion of the LSST's capabilities.

For queries regarding the application or procedure, please contact us at the following e-mail address:

How can I learn more about the Science Collaborations?

First, please see the LSST posters, including presentations from each science collaboration, at the January 2010 AAS meeting. If you have further questions, please contact the chairs of the various collaborations.

Why is membership in the science collaborations limited to US scientists only?

The LSST is expected to be supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the member institutions, and a variety of private donations. Negotiations are on-going with the scientific communities of a variety of countries, part of which would include the right to apply for membership in the science collaborations. As host country, Chile will be the first country to join.

What are the criteria by which applications will be judged?

Please consider this application process with the seriousness and care you would put into an application for telescope time. Your application will be judged on the quality of your proposed science project, your own scientific background and experience in the field, your expected contributions to define use of LSST for the overall program of the collaboration, and the amount of effort you are willing to put into the collaboration.  Overall, the project is looking for scientists that can contribute now to the development of the science program.  It may be useful to contact the chair of the relevant science collaboration to explore what is needed most for each collaboration.

I am a particle physicist with little formal astronomy training, but am eager to be involved in LSST. Is it appropriate for me to apply for the science collaborations?

Absolutely. There are many opportunities for particle physicists to make contributions to the LSST project and science preparations. These range from development of science analyses with simulations to analysis of existing data sets to participation in precursor observing campaigns. Being a member of a science collaboration will provide an excellent way to learn and identify how best to apply your particular interests, background and skills.

Is there a possibility to start a science collaboration other than those listed? How about a competing science collaboration?

This opportunity was offered in previous calls, and is likely to be available in the future, but the present call is only for joining existing science collaborations. 

How in practice will scientists access LSST data?

LSST data are not proprietary and will be available to astronomers at all US and Chilean institutions. Images and catalogs will be distributed regularly via a number of data access centers and accessible through VO-compliant services. Transient alerts will be issued within 60 seconds of each field visit via VOEventNet.

Annual data releases, including deep coadds of the images, will all be archived and available at all times. As yet unreleased data will also be available, but will bear the caveat that they have not yet been through the complete data release/quality assurance process.

The quantity of data (30 terabytes/night) is so great, however, that in practice, it will not be possible to serve all the data to everyone who wants it on arbitrarily short timescales. So, in addition to load managing and allocating requests for data download into managed service levels, the data access centers will also provide computing and storage resources for uploading end user codes and executing them at the centers and then downloading the results.

Finally, there will be a resource allocation process for pre-authorizing access at a higher performance level, based on scientific review similar to a telescope allocation process.

Why is there an application process? Why not simply let everyone who wishes join the science collaborations?

Membership in a science collaboration is an agreement to put real work into the collaboration, and not simply an interest in receiving e-mail updates. A collaboration that gets too large can become unwieldy and unfocused. Members of the science collaborations are welcome to attend LSST-wide meetings and take part in detailed discussions of infrastructure issues, but this may become awkward if the number of people involved gets too large.

Can I apply to join more than one science collaboration?

This is possible but not encouraged. Given that membership in a science collaboration represents a commitment to that collaboration, if you apply for more than one collaboration, you will need to be explicit about how you will divide your time between them.

In order to apply for a second collaboration, you will need to reregister with a different username and password and submit independent proposals for each collaboration.

How long will my membership be good for?

The collaborations will review activity by its members every two years. We expect that inactive members will be replaced by fresh applicants.

I missed this year's application process. Will there be future opportunities?

Yes, we will have yearly applications. However, applicants who are prepared to begin work early will be given preference.

When are applications due?

March 15, 2013 

Now that I've filled out my application, what happens next? When can I expect a reply?

Once the volume of applications becomes known (after the deadline), a review panel of commensurate size will be appointed through the NOAO offices in consultation with the LSST Science Council, and high energy physicists through SLAC. The proposals will be reviewed by the Science Collaborations whose comments will be forwarded to the review committee, who will make a balanced appraisal of the various aspects of the proposals. They will make their recommendation to the LSST project.  We expect that this process will be completed by June 1, 2013.

This is so exciting, that I think I want to get my institution formally involved in the LSST collaboration. To whom should I talk?

Please contact one of the following:

Tony Tyson

Sidney Wolff

A current list of institutional members may be found at: consortium.