UK involvement in LSST: Phase C (Oxford component)

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


We propose a continuation of the programme enabling UK participation in the Vera C. Rubin Observatory's Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), one of the most ambitious science projects planned for the next decade, and a key part of the astronomical landscape in the 2020s and 2030s. The Rubin Observatory's Simonyi Survey Telescope 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.

The breadth of LSST science led to the formation, in 2014, of the LSST:UK Consortium, which comprises every astronomy group in the UK. The Consortium defined a four-phase programme for the LSST:UK Science Centre (LUSC), which would prepare for, and, subsequently, support scientific exploitation of LSST data by the UK community. STFC has funded the first two phases of this programme, and the current proposal seeks funding for the third (Phase C).

US agencies are funding the construction of the Rubin Observatory and the bulk of the cost of Rubin operations, with international partners earning data rights through in-kind contributions to Rubin operations and most of the LUSC Phase C programme now comprises components of the UK's in-kind package. This package consists of three main strands of work:
1. Taking a 25% share of the annual Data Release Processing workload;
2. Operating a Data Access Centre; and
3. Developing software to generate derived data products for use by the international LSST Science Collaborations.
These three significant strands of work, together with a few smaller activities, comprise a substantial contribution to Rubin operations, which we hope will secure LSST data rights for the whole UK community and earn the UK a place as an International Affiliate Partner in the Rubin operations consortium.


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