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.
The main sources of US federal support for LSST-related research are NSF and DOE.
Relevant programs run by NSF include:
- Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Grants (AAG) — Annual, deadline typically in mid-November
- Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (CDS&E) — This is a “meta program” with a component tied to the AAG program; an AAG proposal possibly relevant to CDS&E should have “CDS&E:” as a prefix to its title.
- Statistics Grants — Annual, deadline typically in mid-December
- Programs under NSF’s Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) theme, one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas (note that LSST-related research also falls under the Windows on the Universe theme, but that theme has no dedicated programs)
- Programs under the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)
This list is not exhaustive; in particular, NSF occasionally announces short-lived grant opportunities not listed here. An example is the National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes program, which issued a one-time call for proposals for astronomy-focused AI research institutes in 2023. To stay abreast of new funding opportunities, subscribe to the mailing lists for the directorates of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) (see the bottom of the sidebars on each page).
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 Discovery Alliance (LSSTDA, formerly 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. LSSTDA occasionally solicits proposals for small research projects; see their Enabling Science page for more information. LSSTDA 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/Nov 2023 update: For recent information on Rubin’s plan and timeline for the Early Science Program, see the presentation by Leanne Guy and Bob Blum at the August 2023 Rubin Project and Community Workshop (PCW): “Early science with Rubin: What to expect in year 1 of Operations” (PDF slides available there). The timeline has changed a bit; see the October update on Community: Update of Rubin Observatory Construction Plan. The Early Science Program document (see below) was updated on 31 Oct 2023 with the latest timeline as of that date.
LSST.org hosts a web site for scientists collecting many resources useful for proposers. Some notable resources are listed here. NSF proposers take note: Proposal project descriptions currently may not include URLs (see NSF PAPPG 2.D.2.d.ii). Some project docs are thus archived at sites that make them citable via a DOI; these are highlighted below.
- Rubin Project Status (also accessible via the LSST shortener at ls.st/dates) — Project status, including a table of predicted dates for milestones, updated monthly and automatically via the Project’s management tools. This should be the most up-to-date public information on the project schedule.
- Use the status dates to update the visual Early Science Timeline in the “Early science with Rubin…” slide deck linked above.
- Note that SC members will have access to some data during the Data Preview 1 (DP1) and DP2 periods.
- Rubin Observatory Plans for an Early Science Program (RTN-011, accessible via ls.st/RTN-011) — Describes the plans for a dedicated Early Science Program to enable high-impact science prior to the first annual LSST Data Release. RTN-011 includes graphical timelines, but keep in mind that updates to RTN-011 lag updates to the Project Status page; always check dates and time frames against the status page. This document was created specifically for proposers to cite; see the version archived on Zenodo for the citable DOI: Rubin Observatory Plans for an Early Science Program - Zenodo (DOI-citable) (make sure to look at the top of that page for status; if there’s a newer version, it will be linked at the top).
- 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.
- 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-citable slide deck). This document was created specifically for proposers to cite, in particular, to clarify that the LSST Project is not directly undertaking or funding development of downstream data science research. A Zenodo DOI is available at the linked page.
- Release Scenarios for Rubin LSST Commissioning and Survey Data (RDO-11; accessible via ls.st/RDO-11) — This document describes the data release plans for the data previews and commissioning data; it’s the recommended source for detailed information about DP1 and DP2. Note that it is not updated as regularly as RTN-011. RTN-011 includes information about the data previews; RDO-11 is mainly useful if you need more detail.
- 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 LSST.org 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.
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 recent estimates of the numbers of stars and galaxies LSST will observe. It also briefly describes the Rubin Science Platform (RSP, for co-located data analysis) and survey cadence considerations (the RSP was called the LSST Science Platform at the time of this presentation). For up-to-date information on the RSP, visit its website: Rubin Science Platform.
- 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.