Proposal support

This page gathers basic resources that may be useful to ISSC members preparing proposals requesting support for small-team LSST-related projects involving significant data science research.

Funding sources

The main sources of US federal support for LSST-related research are NSF and DOE.

Relevant programs run by NSF include:

This list is not exhaustive; in particular, NSF occasionally announces short-lived grant opportunities not listed here.

DOE supports the construction of the LSST camera. DOE's science support for LSST mainly focuses on dark energy and dark matter research. See the DOE Office of Science Funding, specifically their annual funding opportunity announcements. Note that DOE opportunities often have more strict eligibility requirements than NSF opportunities (e.g., PIs may have to hold tenured or tenure-track positions).

The Rubin Observatory LSST Project runs the telescope and the Data Management effort; it is federally funded. The LSST Corporation (LSSTC) is a not-for-profit corporation that helped initiate the project, and that raises philanthropic funding to help the project succeed. LSSTC occasionally solicits proposals for small research projects; see their Enabling Science page for more information. LSSTC runs the LSST Interdisciplinary Network for Collaboration and Computing (LINCC), which oversees the Catalyst Fellowship program, and programs supporting the creation and sharing of analysis tools for key LSST science goals.

Rubin-LSST information for proposers

October 2022 update: For the latest information on Rubin's plan and timeline for the Early Science Program, see the post in the Rubin Community Forum by Deputy Director for Operations Phil Marshall ( login required): "Updates to the Rubin Early Science Plan...". This post includes a link to a slide deck with information specifically targeting proposal PIs. hosts a web site for scientists collecting many resources useful for proposers. Some notable resources are:

  • LSST Project Schedule — Note that SC members will have access to some data during the Science Verification period. Also note that the schedule includes a significant contingency period. As of late 2019, the expectation is that much of the contingency will be needed to make up for unanticipated construction delays.
  • Rubin Project Status (also accessible via — Project status, including a table of predicted dates for milestones, updated monthly and automatically via the Project's management tools.
  • Rubin Observatory Plans for an Early Science Program (RTN-011) — Describes the plans for a dedicated Early Science Program to enable high-impact science prior to the first annual LSST Data Release.
  • LSST System & Survey Key Numbers — The latest estimates of basic survey information, including telescope properties, observation properties, and data release properties including catalog sizes and expected data volume.
  • LSST Science Book — Although it dates from 2009, this book, prepared by the project team and the science collaborations, remains the most comprehensive overview of the science goals and capabilities of LSST. Note that the ISSC did not exist when the book was prepared. Note, too, that some quantitative information in the book may be out of date.
  • LSST Publications — This section of archives numerous reports, papers, and presentations prepared by project members. It includes technical reports on the design and capabilities of elements of the telescope and data management system. See especially the section with Key Project Documents.
  • The Rubin Data Products, Abridged — A brief, informal summary of the planned Rubin Observatory data products and analysis tools, also covering the boundary between what Rubin Observatory will provide and what will be left to the expertise of the science community (DOI-citeable slide deck).

Three publications likely to be especially useful are these:

  • LSST: From Science Drivers To Reference Design And Anticipated Data Products — This paper is the official description of LSST's goals and planned capabilities. It first appeared on arXiv in 2008, but it has been regularly updated since then. The 2019 version has been published in ApJ: ADS entry (with BibTeX). Further information about LSST's science requirements and data products are in reports in the "Key Project Documents" archive cited above.
  • Keith Bechtol's presentation for the Feb 2018 workshop, "NOAO Community Needs for Science in the 2020s," organized in preparation for the Astro2020 decadal survey: "Science with LSST" (NOAO is now NOIRLab). This slide deck include more information about the "key numbers" referenced above, including current estimates of the numbers of stars and galaxies LSST will observe. It also briefly describes the LSST Science Platform (for co-located data analysis) and survey cadence considerations.
  • Summary of Data Management Principles — If your proposal requires a data management plan that needs to describe LSST's own data management principles, you may want to cite this report.

Thanks in part to support from DOE, the Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) has been especially active in this pre-survey preparation period. If your work is relevant for cosmology (including some topics in extragalactic astronomy and transient and variable star astronomy), these documents hosted at the LSST DESC public website may be useful (DESC also maintains a very extensive collaboration-only website with lots more):

These and other related documents are collected on DESC's DESC Planning Documents page.


The Rubin Project maintains a helpful glossary of technical terms and acronyms associated with Rubin/LSST: Glossary & Acronyms. (Rubin's EPO site hosts a simplified glossary: Rubin Education Glossary.)

As examples of what you'll find in the glossary, note the specific ways that "object" and "source" are used in LSST publications:

  • Object: Refers to an astronomical object, such as a star, galaxy, asteroid, or other physical entity. Objects can be static, or change brightness or position with time. Generally an object will be associated with more than one instance of a source detection
  • Source: A single detection of an astrophysical object in an image, the characteristics for which are stored in the Source Catalog of the science database. The Data Management System attempts to associate multiple source detections to single objects, which may vary in brightness or position over time.