Overview: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is one of the next generation of great observatories, designed to conduct a ten- year survey of the dynamic Universe. The LSST will have an exceptionally wide field of view and the ability to survey the entire visible sky every three nights. The astronomical catalogs produced by the LSST will be thousands of times larger than from the largest current surveys. Astronomers will use this wealth of data to better understand dark matter and dark energy, the formation and structure of the Milky Way, the transient optical sky, hazardous asteroids, and the remote solar system. The LSST is currently under construction in northwestern Chile and it is expected to begin operations at the beginning of the 2020s.
In the ten-year survey lifetime, LSST will map tens of billions of stars and galaxies. The survey data will be processed in real time, and every object that has appeared to change in brightness or moved – from exploding supernovae on the other side of the Universe to asteroids that might impact the Earth – will be identified and sent to the community for follow-up and more detailed characterization.
The LSST survey will produce an enormous volume of data: 15 terabytes (TB) of raw data per night, for a total amount of data collected over the ten years of operation of 60 petabytes (PB). Processing this data will produce a catalog of 40 billion astrophysical sources and 30 trillion time-dependent brightness measurements. The survey will generate 10 million alerts of variable sources every 60 seconds.
IPAC is a partner in LSST and is building the Science User Interface and Tools (SUIT) components for the LSST Science Platform, the environment that will enable the astrophysical community to access and work with the LSST data. IPAC is building a state-of-the-art interface and set of tools to allow the community to access, interact with, evaluate, and process the LSST data, built upon the legacy of IPAC’s mission support from IRAS through Spitzer and beyond.
The construction of LSST is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation.