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Maximizing Science in the Era of LSST: A Community-based Study of Needed US OIR Capabilities

Maximizing Science in the Era of LSST: A Community-based Study of Needed US OIR Capabilities

Purpose: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will be a discovery machine for the US astronomical community, revealing astrophysical phenomena from the Solar System to the outer reaches of the visible Universe. The LSST Science Book describes the broad range of science that LSST enables. While many discoveries will be made using LSST data alone, others will require OIR supporting capabilities, i.e., resources such as observing time on telescopes, instrumentation, software, computing and data management resources, access to archival data, etc. This study, funded by The Kavli Foundation and endorsed by NSF/AST, aims to quantify and prioritize the supporting capabilities needed to maximize the science enabled by LSST.

Background: The study will build on the report commissioned by NSF and the National Academy of Sciences (Optimizing the U.S. Ground-Based Optical and Infrared Astronomy System in the Era of LSST, the “Elmegreen report”), which made several specific recommendations for OIR supporting capabilities, including wide-field, multiplexed spectroscopy on medium to large aperture telescopes; a high-throughput, moderate resolution spectrograph on Gemini South; and US involvement in one or more GSMT projects. The study will also build on the 2013 NOAO report on Spectroscopy in the Era of LSST.

Structure: The study will identify and assess quantitatively the resources needed to accomplish LSST-enabled science, based on community input. Because the study is science-driven, 6-8 representative science programs will be worked out in detail to illustrate how science goals are linked to the quantitative requirements. The programs will be drawn from the scientific priorities outlined in New Worlds, New Horizons and from community input. In addition to quantifying and prioritizing supporting capabilities, the study will highlight ways that existing and planned resources could be positioned to accomplish the science goals and identify high priority future investments for OIR infrastructure.

Process and Schedule:

  1. Following the assembly of a Study Organizing Committee (SOC), the community will be invited to express interest in contributing to the study and to provide input on the supporting capabilities that are needed for the LSST-enabled science they hope to accomplish. Deadline 15 Jan 2016.
  2. The SOC will lead study groups focused around individual science topics. Study participants will be drawn from community members who have expressed interest in that topic. From February through April 2016, the study groups will identify resource needs for their topic and develop illustrative science cases in quantitative detail in order to prepare for the workshop.
  3. A workshop will be held in Tucson 2-4 May 2016 to bring together the results of the individual study groups and prioritize the needed capabilities. The ~ 40 workshop participants will be selected from among the study participants to include a broad range of science expertise and diverse points of view.
  4. Led by the SOC, the study participants will summarize their findings in a report.

Deliverable: The report, which will be completed in Summer 2016, will be informational to federal and private funding sources as well as public and private observatories to (i) guide funding priorities and (ii) facilitate cross-facility, and cross-science field collaborations.

Questions and Comments: Please contact Joan Najita ( or Beth Willman ( with questions about this study. Questions or problems with this website may be directed to


Maximizing Science in the Era of LSST is sponsored by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and The Kavli Foundation. NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

AURA, inc. NSF

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