Vera C. Rubin Observatory

The mission of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory construction project is to build a well-understood system that provides a vast astronomical dataset for unprecedented discovery of the deep and dynamic universe. For updates on the construction and science operations, check the Project & Science News page.

Overview

The goal of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory project is to conduct the 10-year Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). LSST will deliver a 500 petabyte set of images and data products that will address some of the most pressing questions about the structure and evolution of the universe and the objects in it. The Rubin Observatory LSST is designed to address four science areas:

  • Probing dark energy and dark matter.
  • Taking an inventory of the solar system.
  • Exploring the transient optical sky.
  • Mapping the Milky Way.

The scientific questions that Rubin Observatory will address are profound, and yet the concept behind the design of Rubin Observatory is remarkably simple: conduct a deep survey over an enormous area of sky; do it with a frequency that enables images of every part of the visible sky to be obtained every few nights; and continue in this mode for ten years to achieve astronomical catalogs thousands of times larger than have ever previously been compiled.

The construction phase of the project will deliver the facilities needed to conduct the survey: a large-aperture, wide-field, optical imaging telescope; a gigapixel camera; and a data management system.

Telescope & Site

The 8.4-meter Simonyi Survey Telescope uses a special three-mirror design, which creates an exceptionally wide field of view, and has the ability to survey the entire sky in only three nights. The Rubin Observatory Summit Facility is located on the Cerro Pachón ridge in north-central Chile. The observatory site is inland and approximately 60 m (100 km) by road from the support town of La Serena, where the Rubin Observatory Base Facility is located. In addition, the Rubin Auxiliary Telescope will provide important complementary data for the Rubin Observatory throughout survey operations.

Camera

The Rubin Observatory LSST Camera must produce data of extremely high quality with minimal downtime and maintenance. In order to take advantage of high-quality images produced over such a wide field, the camera contains over three billion pixels of solid state detectors.

Data Management

Software is one of the most challenging aspects of Rubin Observatory, as more than 20 terabytes of data must be processed and stored each night. Information about the Data Preview 0: Definition and planning can be found here.

Public Engagement

Everyone can share in the excitement and discoveries of Rubin Observatory with planned activities for education and public outreach.