LSST Canada Update

By / par JJ Kavelaars (LSST Canada collaboration)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2020)

At the LSST community session during the CASCA meeting last June, the status of Canada’s LSST engagement was communicated. In addition, the results of the LSST Canada community survey were described and the evolving nature of the LSST international associate partnership model was presented. At the time of that session, LSST anticipated moving forward on partnerships near the end of February 2020. Since then, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope has been renamed the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the observational program itself is now called the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), repurposing the LSST brand and giving the observatory a name that honours Dr. Vera C. Rubin, a pioneer in dark matter research.

Following the change last year to the associate partnership scheme, the specific contributions of associate partnerships are still under negotiation. A Contributions Evaluation Committee (CEC) has been set up by the Rubin Observatory’s Acting Director of Operations Robert Blum with a charge to evaluate proposed contributions by international associates. The charge to the CEC is available from the LSST Community pages. An outline of the proposed Canadian contributions to LSST was submitted to the CEC via a Letter of Intent in November 2019.

Recently, the LSST Project announced that they have asked NSF to extend the timeline on the associate partnership/in-kind contribution process as LSST operations have been lately focused on building a comprehensive operations plan, a significant effort that must be completed before rational in-kind contributions can be negotiated. Additional details on the current schedule are available from the LSST Community pages.

Whatever in-kind contributions Canada makes must enable our ambitions for participation in LSST, as measured by the LSST Canada community survey. The first key contribution is the Canadian LSST Science Analysis Platform (CLASP), for which a CFI proposal led by Renée Hlozek (Dunlap Institute, Toronto) was submitted last month. A second key contribution is an archival component provisioned by NRC, pending the outcome of LRP2020. Of course, these contributions must be also valued by LSST, at a level that enables our community’s interests. At this time, the proposed contributions are consistent with Canadian astronomy’s ambitions, as expressed through the community survey, and LSST’s advertised valuing of in-kind contributions.

The CLASP proponents have been communicating informally with the CEC and responding to their inquiries on a timely basis. We remain hopeful that the significant benefits of CLASP to LSST will be recognized during the upcoming evaluation process.

The LRP2020 Panel report, of which a draft is expected in the spring of this year, will provide substantive comment on the importance of the project within the Canadian astronomy research landscape. Canada will not, however, have a complete answer on our capacity to respond to LSST in-kind requirements until after a decision on the CFI proposal is made. CFI decisions are unlikely to be publicly available until well into summer 2020 at the earliest.

The above information is provided to keep the community informed of the efforts being made to join LSST and the status of those efforts. We hope to have more definitive information available by the time of the CASCA meeting this May.

If you have further LSST questions, please contact Renée Hlozek ( and/or JJ Kavelaars ( If you would like to be added to the LSST Canada e-mail exploder, please send a request to

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