NOAO < 2020DECADAL < Topics

Coordinating Strategies for LSST Follow-Up

White Paper for this topic posted already, see post by B. Miller. Additional comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Proposed by Dara Norman (NOAO)

Comments (1):

Miller et al's White Paper presents a very good discussion of a complex and multi-faceted challenge, but one which we must solve in order to fulfill the scientific potential of LSST. Among the many outstanding questions they raise is exactly how the community access LSST alerts. Although the (mini-) broker systems to distribute the alerts are still under-development, that technology is only the first stage in a chain of technologies needed to act on some of those alerts. The remaining links in that chain, such as Target and Observation Manager (TOM) systems and observing facility interfaces, remain to be build, and astronomers need time to develop experience with them. LSST will begin its main survey within ~4yrs - or to put it another way, just enough time for astronomers to propose for a grant and recruit personnel to develop the systems they will need to accomplish their science. So the work needs to start now, and in order for it to be done, the interfaces to the brokers need to be defined by identifying the needs of the astronomers who will use them. Miller et al highlight a project that is exploring one possible way to coordinate follow-up programs across a diverse set of telescope facilities by bringing them under a single scheduler. This is a very powerful solution, with many benefits, but it is worth noting that participating observatories will be able to switch into and out of this "networked" mode. This ensures that they retain the flexibility to control their scheduling. It should also be noted the TOM systems can (and already do) conduct observations on multiple facilities both within and outside a coordinated network, so there is great flexibility in how this can be implemented. I strongly agree with Miller et al. that the greatest challenge may lie in the politics and sociology governing how different astronomical teams cooperate and share information. It is worth considering how we can incentivize astronomers to share and discourage actions that can lead to inefficient use of resources. I would also like to add that follow-up is not restricted to EM radiation nor to ground-based facilities, so conscious efforts should be made to encompass all observatories in this conversation.

Comment by Rachel Street (Las Cumbres Observatory)