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Space.com's It's Official: Vera Rubin Observatory Named to Honor Dark Matter Scientist says:

"We're here today to focus on the major renaming of the facility after a pioneering astronomer, that is intimately tied to one of the key focus science areas for this project," Ralph Gaume, Director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Astronomical Sciences, said during the event (the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society). "I'm pleased, very pleased, beyond how much you all know and may recognize, to today officially rename the LSST observatory as the Vera C. Rubin Observatory."

Gaume's comments were met by applause from the gathered astronomers. Observatory director Steve Kahn and other team members soon donned T-shirts sporting the new name.

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a federal project run by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. Its first 10 years of work will be dedicated entirely to a project now known as the Legacy Survey of Space and Time. "Because we know you're all in love with the four letters LSST, we figured out a way to preserve that," Gaume said.


If I understand correctly, the telescope formerly known as LSST is now the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, but the acronym has been reincarnated.

What exactly is the LSST then? The article says that it is a project known as the Legacy Survey of Space and Time, but what exactly is a "project"? Is it the title of a proposal, or a financial instrument for assigning research funds, or something for business cards and letterhead?

A photo of astronomer Vera Rubin. (Image credit: NOAO/AURA/NSF)

A photo of astronomer Vera Rubin. (Image credit: NOAO/AURA/NSF)

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  • $\begingroup$ @RobJeffries see comment $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 8, 2020 at 23:18

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The LSST Project is in charge of the construction project; building the telescope, camera and observatory and data pipelines and act as the "prime contractor". This includes designing and setting up the data processing and data distribution but the Project's job is essentially "done" once things start operating and the observatory transitions into regular operations. Once the Project delivers the observatory and it's signed off as complete, then the day-to-day operations transitions over to the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory. They will manage LSST along with other ground-based assets such as the (former) NOAO telescopes and the two Gemini telescopes. They will be the ones in charge of making the survey actually happen and keep functioning.

The Project was setup by the LSST Corporation LSSTC website which represents the institution and international partners, works with the Science Collaborations and is generally in charge/supports getting the science out of the observatory.

So as per the press release, the now named Vera C. Rubin Observatory consists of the mountain top facility in Chile which contains the 8.4-m telescope, now named Simonyi Survey Telescope after an early donor who got the primary work started, the commissioning camera (ComCam) and the main 3.2 Gpix DOE LSST Camera, along with Auxiliary Telescope and its dome and the headquarters in Tucson, AZ. This will be carrying out the 10yr sky survey, now backronymed to be Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) to keep the same acronym.

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  • $\begingroup$ Apologies I sometimes have a hard time understanding things that are blindingly obvious to everyone else. The article says "The Vera C. Rubin Observatory('s)... first 10 years of work will be dedicated entirely to a project now known as the Legacy Survey of Space and Time." The name of that project was chosen to preserve the acronym LSST. If I understand correctly, the telescope and the observatory now carry names of people, and LSST refers to a 10 year observing project but LSST will also still be used sometimes to refer to the telescope, and a corporation, and the camera specifically? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 8, 2020 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ Depends on who's talking about it... For most people/astronomers, when they say "LSST" they mean the main telescope (the 'Simonyi Survey Telescope' now) and camera and the survey it will carry out and the results from it e.g. "LSST will find 200,000 Near Earth Objects" or "LSST will produce a million alerts per night" $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2020 at 0:36
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It's correct that the telescope formerly known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is now named the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. However, the acronym LSST has indeed been repurposed and now stands for the Legacy Survey of Space and Time.

In this context, the term project refers to a planned and organized effort to achieve specific scientific goals. The LSST project, or the Legacy Survey of Space and Time, is a 10-year survey of the southern sky that will be conducted at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. It's not just the title of a proposal or a financial instrument but rather a comprehensive initiative that includes the construction of facilities, the development of a gigapixel camera, automated data processing systems, and public engagement activities.

The LSST project will deliver a huge volume of images and data products that will address some of the most pressing questions about the structure and evolution of the universe and the objects in it. The concept behind the design of Rubin Observatory is simple: Conduct a deep survey over an enormous area of sky; do it with a frequency that enables images of every part of the visible sky to be obtained every few nights; and continue in this mode for ten years to achieve astronomical catalogues thousands of times larger than have ever previously been compiled.

The Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) has established several Science Collaborations (SCs) to focus on a broad range of topics in astronomy and cosmology. Here are some of them:

  1. Active Galactic Nuclei Science Collaboration (AGN SC): This collaboration focuses on the study of active galactic nuclei (AGN) using LSST data.

  2. Galaxies Science Collaboration (GSC): Scientists in the LSST GSC conduct a wide range of extragalactic research programs with LSST data.

  3. Stars, Milky Way, and Local Volume Science Collaboration (SMWLV SC): This collaboration aims to understand the accretion history and structure of the Milky Way and the Local Volume, and the fundamental properties of stars within 300 pc of the Sun.

  4. Solar System Science Collaboration (SSSC): The SSSC is preparing methods and tools to analyze the LSST data, as well as understand optimum survey strategies for discovering moving objects throughout the Solar System.

  5. Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC): DESC is an international science collaboration that will make high-accuracy measurements of fundamental cosmological parameters using data from the Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

  6. Transients and Variable Stars Science Collaboration (TVS SC): This collaboration focuses on the study of the transient and variable sky through the LSST data, including a large and diverse range of phenomena: variable events, periodic or not, explosive and eruptive transients, and geometric transients (e.g. eclipsing binaries and planets).

  7. [Strong Lensing Science Collaboration (SLSC)](https://sites.google.com/view/lsst-stronglensing: The SLSC explores the feasibility of a number of strong gravitational lensing science projects enabled by the LSST survey.

  8. Informatics & Statistics Science Collaboration (ISSC): The ISSC focuses on data analysis methodology research in collaboration with other Science Collaborations (SCs) and the broader LSST user community.

Each Science Collaboration develops its own governmental structure, publication policy, and code of conduct. Membership to the SCs is limited to Rubin Observatory Data Rights holders.

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