UK Involvement in LSST: Phase B (Oxford component)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics

Abstract

We propose a continuation of the programme enabling UK participation in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), one of the most ambitious science projects planned for the next decade, and a key part of the astronomical landscape in the 2020s. LSST will have both a large collecting area and a wide field of view, giving it an etendue more than an order of magnitude larger than any current or planned facility. This will enable it to survey the whole visible sky every few days, leading to both a stacked sky survey of great depth, and the ability to find moving, variable, and transient objects. It will make advances over a large range of science, from Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, through the structure of the Milky Way, to the most distant quasars, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy - all areas where UK astronomers stand poised to make leading contributions.
LSST originated as a US project but is now transforming into an international one. This mostly requires operational support rather than capital construction, which makes engagement in LSST tremendous value for money. Rather than simply being an old-fashioned sky-atlas resource, the best LSST science will come through organised, massive, and systematic exploitation of its vast dataset in international teams. For UK astronomers to play a strong role it is therefore crucial to engage early and fully - in science working group planning, in development of specialised analysis software (the so-called "Level 3") and to have a framework to implement and run that Level 3 code.
The LSST:UK consortium aims to meet these goals through a four-phase programme. STFC committed £17.7M in response to our Phase A proposal, and we are now requesting funding for Phase B (April 2019 - March 2023). There are three elements to the lifetime costs of the full, four-phase programme:
1. To allow full data access, LSST requires a contribution to operations. These funds will only be required in later phases, but STFC has concluded a Memorandum of Agreement on behalf of the UK community and the required funds were committed in response to our Phase A proposal.
2. LSST requires that we make provision for the added cost of UK community access. Rather than hand over more cash, our proposal is to construct a UK Data Access Centre (DAC). This will enable us to fully engage immediately with LSST both scientifically and technically, will allow much more control for UK astronomers, and has a potential for industry involvement. We have been prototyping the UK DAC during Phase A, and now seek funds for its deployment, in readiness for LSST Commissioning. In accordance with the Science Board recommendation in our Phase A award, this is being conducted within the context of the development on coordinated computing infrastructure for STFC science being planned by the UKT0 consortium.
3. To maximise UK scientific return, we further propose a community development programme for Level 3 algorithms and data products, working closely in conjunction with the UK DAC. Phase B funding will build on the successes of our Phase A programme and on focus on further developing of Level 3 software tools through the use of LSST Commissioning data

Planned Impact

Support for UK involvement in LSST, through funding the LSST:UK Science Centre (LUSC), can generate societal and economic impact under the following five headings:

1. Enhancing the research capacity, knowledge and skills of enterprises working on "Big Data" issues being incubated within the Higgs Centre for Innovation.
The Phase B LUSC Data Access Centre workpackage is co-located on the Royal Observatory Edinburgh campus with the Higgs Centre for Innovation, which is being funded to improve interaction between academia and industry in Space and Big Data, and to enhance economic impact in those two domains. We shall exploit that co-location to ensure that Big Data innovations within the LSST project in the US filter through to UK SMEs and that the challenging requirements of LSST inspire the development of novel Big Data techniques and technologies within the UK, as has been the case in the US.

2. Increasing public engagement with research through Citizen Science initiatives.
The LSST:UK Consortium will develop a Citizen Science platform based on the pioneering Zooniverse project, which currently has more than one million users doing real science online. Computational advances between now and the start of LSST operations will enable Citizen Science activities that greatly exceed what is currently possible, and perhaps most exciting is the prospect of involving Citizen Scientists in the classification of the million or more transient alerts that LSST will generate per night, placing the public at the heart of LSST's pioneering exploration of time-domain astronomy.

3. Enhancing cultural enrichment and quality of life through education & outreach activities.
The LSST:UK Consortium institutions have a wealth of experience in education and public outreach (EPO) activities, from running Open Days and exhibitions to CPD courses for school teachers to Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). During Phase B we will develop an EPO programme, in conjunction with the very active LSST EPO team in the US.

4. Enhancing the research capacity, knowledge and skills of organisations through the employment of researchers with high-level expertise derived from working on LSST.
Over the 18-year lifetime of the LUSC programme, many students (e.g. from the STFC data-intensive science CDTs) and postdocs who have developed high-level expertise from working on LSST will pass from astronomy to the commercial sector, taking their valuable knowledge and skills with them. Particularly valuable will be the computational and statistical skills that will be readily applicable to the Big Data challenges prevalent in the public and private sector, and the expertise in thick CCDs developed through UK involvement in the LSST camera team.

5. Wealth creation, through the placing of construction contracts with UK companies.
The detector characterisation work started during LUSC Phase A, and proposed for continuation during Phase B, has included liaison with a UK company that has now signed a large contract to supply roughly half of the LSST detectors.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Galaxy Zoo DECALS 
Description This is an algorithmic classification of 300000 galaxies. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact N/A 
URL http://data.galaxyzoo.org
 
Title Zooniverse Panoptes Python Client 
Description This python client allows users to interact with the Zooniverse Panoptes platform, which supports the citizen science projects on the platform 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2020 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact N/A 
 
Title Zooniverse Panoptes platform: integration with LSST DAC 
Description This is the backend application that supports the Zooniverse citizen science platform. we have made changes to enable it to integrate with the LSST DAC. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2020 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact N/A 
 
Company Name 1715 LABS LIMITED 
Description 1715 Labs seeks to make commercial use of the Zooniverse platform, bringing the techniques for crowd management and crowdsourcing we have developed into the commercial realm. 
Year Established 2018 
Impact N/A
Website https://www.1715labs.com/
 
Description Adler Kavli Talks: Zooniverse/LSST 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Developed, wrote and presented script for planetarium show, which was built by the Adler Planetarium to fit script, on Zooniverse and the promise of LSST. Live to audience of 500 in two showings in Chicago, broadcast live to 35 other planetaria. Visualizations produced available to be used in other planetaria.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Agile Rabbit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk and discussion on serendipity to art/tech group in Exeter
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Ashford Astronomical Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on serendipity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Cafe Scientifique Didcot 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to Didcot Cafe Scientifique online
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Chipping Norton Astronomical Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Crowd and Cosmos Talk (Oxford Library) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to library users about research; reached an audience who would normally not attend talks in Oxford
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Dark Skies Festival Marlborough 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on modern astrophysics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Dark Sky Wales 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on serendipity
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Lols in Space 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Stand up comedy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Norwich Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Discussion at science festival, released as podcast.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Open House Leeds, hosted by tech/design company. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk to industry/design meet up.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Physics In Action 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Three talks to large audiences of six formers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description Public Talk (Orpington) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk at Orpington Astronomical Society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description STEM Wana Trust 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Presentation to schools in New Zealand.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description School Public Talk (Canterbury) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk hosted by school to pupils and their guests.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk (Manchester) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk at Astronomy on Tap in Groningen, broadcast live online.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Talk (Oxford: IF Festival) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Launch for the Crowd and Cosmos book.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk (Thomas Hardye School) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk for school community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Talk at Google 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk at Google.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Universe of Music (Lewis) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Universe of Music with Steve Pretty at Hebridean Dark Skies Festival
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Universe of Music (Norwich Science Festival) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Performance of 'Universe of Music' with jazz musician Steve Pretty.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description World Space Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on modern astrophysics
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Zoom Talks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A total of 24 talks given online during the pandemic. Mean audience 72.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021