In the history of astronomy, major advances in our understanding of the Universe have come from dramatic improvements in our ability to accurately measure astronomical quantities. Aided by rapid progress in information technology, current sky surveys are changing the way we view and study the Universe. Next-generation surveys will maintain this revolutionary progress. We focus here on the most ambitious survey currently planned in the visible band, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). LSST will have unique survey capability in the faint time domain. The LSST design is driven by four main science themes: constraining dark energy and dark matter, taking an inventory of the Solar System, exploring the transient optical sky, and mapping the Milky Way. It will be a large, wide-field ground-based system designed to obtain multiple images covering the sky that is visible from Cerro Pachón in Northern Chile. The current baseline design, with an 8.4 m (6.5 m effective) primary mirror, a 9.6 deg2 field of view, and a 3,200 Megapixel camera, will allow about 10,000 square degrees of sky to be covered using pairs of 15-second exposures in two photometric bands every three nights on average. The system is designed to yield high image quality, as well as superb astrometric and photometric accuracy. The survey area will include 30,000 deg2 with δ < +34.5°, and will be imaged multiple times in six bands, ugrizy, covering the wavelength range 320-1050 nm. About 90% of the observing time will be devoted to a deep-wide-fast survey mode which will observe a 20,000 deg2 region about 1000 times in the six bands during the anticipated 10 years of operation. These data will result in databases including 10 billion galaxies and a similar number of stars, and will serve the majority of science programs. The remaining 10% of the observing time will be allocated to special programs such as Very Deep and Very Fast time domain surveys. We describe how the LSST science drivers led to these choices of system parameters.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics