for proposals to join an existing LSST science collaboration is March 15,
2013, 5pm MST.
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
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
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
The tasks and
opportunities of the Science Collaborations include:
- Providing input to
aspects of the LSST design that remain under discussion, such as the planned
cadence, software and database design and filter design;
- Developing and
participating in precursor studies, calibrations, end-to-end simulations,
and algorithm development that may be required in advance of first light, so
that it is possible to take full advantage of LSST early in its operational
- Developing and
documenting in more detail the science opportunities provided by the LSST,
which is important for the preparation of funding proposals to the NSF, DOE
and elsewhere. The LSST construction and/or operations budget cannot include
funding for the science collaborations. Such funding must be obtained
independently, and writing the proposals to do so is a critical activity for
the science collaborations;
- Laying the groundwork
for the large-scale science projects that the LSST will enable. The ultimate
goal of the LSST project is to do science, and the big projects that LSST
will enable will take a substantial amount of preparation, starting now, so
as to validate and be able to take full advantage of the data once it starts
actively in the commissioning of the telescope, instrument, and data system
by using early engineering and commissioning data to undertake key science
pipeline tests, and thus determine the data quality, identify any systematic
effects, etc., and recommend ways to address any problems that are
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
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
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.
ACTIVITIES OF THE PRESENT LSST SCIENCE COLLABORATIONS
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
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.
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
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
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
- A title, an
indication of which science collaboration you are joining, and abstract.
The abstract should be a paragraph or two; keep it brief.
- A list of
investigators. It is possible
for a small group of up to 3 people to apply jointly for membership if your
group expects to work closely together on the project you describe.
- A science
justification. This is in five
1. Describe your scientific interests and why
you want to join this Science Collaboration.
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
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
II. Contributions to
the Broader LSST Effort [limit 1
- Describe what you can
bring to the broader LSST scientific effort or project. Examples are: tools
that advance the LSST data acquisition strategy, data analysis methods and
tools, data processing facilities, contributions to the construction of the
telescope, camera, or peripheral instrumentation, other activities that
enhance the value of LSST data (such as follow up observations of LSST
alerts), theoretical methods that help interpretation.
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.
[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.
resources do you expect to have to conduct your science? Include
institutional support and access to students/post-docs. Note that the LSST
construction project cannot provide financial resources for scientific
analyses. The science collaborations are an anticipated route for developing
grant proposals to funding agencies for designing, planning, and carrying
out LSST science. Of course, members may also apply as individuals for such
- Will you
apply for research grants to support your science (either individually or
coordinated through the collaboration)? If yes, what will you want them to
- Will you
have, or will you apply for, access to additional observing facilities that
bear upon your science results from LSST?
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
THE SCIENCE COLLABORATIONS AND
Large-scale structure/baryon oscillations:
- Milky Way
and Local Volume Structure:
Informatics and Statistics:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How can I learn more
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 http://www.lsst.org/lsst/scibook
. More science description can be found at
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
meeting. If you have further questions, please contact the chairs of the
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
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
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
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
When are applications
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
A current list of
institutional members may be found at: