From LSST: “Preparing to Light Up the LSST Network”


Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

November 16, 2017
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November 12, 2017 – LSST’s fiber-optic network, which will provide the necessary 100Gbps connectivity to move data from the summit of Cerro Pachón to all LSST operational sites and to multiple data centers, came one milestone closer to activation last week; the AURA LSST Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) Network Equipment that LSST will use initially was installed in several key locations. DWDM equipment sends pulses of light down the fiber to transmit data, therefore a DWDM box is needed at each end of a fiber network in order for the network to be operational. In this installation project, the Summit-Base Network DWDM equipment was set up in the La Serena computer room and in the communications hut on the summit of Cerro Pachón. The Santiago portion of the Base-Archive Network was also addressed, with DWDM hardware installed in La Serena as well as at the National University Network (REUNA) facility in Santiago. The DWDM hardware in Santiago will be connected to AmLight DWDM equipment which will transfer the data to Florida. There, it will be picked up by Florida LambdaRail (FLR), ESnet, and internet2 for its journey to NSCA via Chicago.

The primary South to North network traffic will be the transfer of raw image data from Cerro Pachón to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), where the data will be processed into scientific data products, including transient alerts, calibrated images, and catalogs. From there, a backup of the raw data will be made over the international network to IN2P3 in Lyon, France. IN2P3 will also perform half of the annual catalog processing. The network will also transfer data from North to South, returning the processed scientific data products to the Chilean Data Access Center (DAC), where they will be made available to the Chilean scientific community.

The LSST Summit-Base and Base-Archive networks are on new fibers all the way to Santiago; there is also an existing fiber that provides a backup path from La Serena to Santiago. From Santiago to Florida, the data will travel on a new submarine fiber cable, with a backup on existing fiber cables. LSST currently shares the AURA fiber-optic network (connecting La Serena and the Summit) with the Gemini and CTIO telescopes, but will have its own dedicated DWDM equipment in 2018. Additional information on LSST data flow during LSST Operations is available here.

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LSST telescope, currently under construction at Cerro Pachón Chile
LSST telescope, currently under construction at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.
LSST Interior

LSST/Camera, built at SLAC
LSST/Camera, built at SLAC

The LSST is a new kind of telescope. Currently under construction in Chile, it is being built to rapidly survey the night-time sky. Compact and nimble, the LSST will move quickly between images, yet its large mirror and large field of view—almost 10 square degrees of sky, or 40 times the size of the full moon—work together to deliver more light from faint astronomical objects than any optical telescope in the world.

From its mountaintop site in the foothills of the Andes, the LSST will take more than 800 panoramic images each night with its 3.2 billion-pixel camera, recording the entire visible sky twice each week. Each patch of sky it images will be visited 1000 times during the survey. With a light-gathering power equal to a 6.7-m diameter primary mirror, each of its 30-second observations will be able to detect objects 10 million times fainter than visible with the human eye. A powerful data system will compare new with previous images to detect changes in brightness and position of objects as big as far-distant galaxy clusters and as small as near-by asteroids.

The LSST’s combination of telescope, mirror, camera, data processing, and survey will capture changes in billions of faint objects and the data it provides will be used to create an animated, three-dimensional cosmic map with unprecedented depth and detail , giving us an entirely new way to look at the Universe. This map will serve a myriad of purposes, from locating that mysterious substance called dark matter and characterizing the properties of the even more mysterious dark energy, to tracking transient objects, to studying our own Milky Way Galaxy in depth. It will even be used to detect and track potentially hazardous asteroids—asteroids that might impact the Earth and cause significant damage.

As with past technological advances that opened new windows of discovery, such a powerful system for exploring the faint and transient Universe will undoubtedly serve up surprises.

Plans for sharing the data from LSST with the public are as ambitious as the telescope itself. Anyone with a computer will be able to view the moving map of the Universe created by the LSST, including objects a hundred million times fainter than can be observed with the unaided eye. The LSST project will provide analysis tools to enable both students and the public to participate in the process of scientific discovery. We invite you to learn more about LSST science.

The LSST will be unique: no existing telescope or proposed camera could be retrofitted or re-designed to cover ten square degrees of sky with a collecting area of forty square meters. Named the highest priority for ground-based astronomy in the 2010 Decadal Survey, the LSST project formally began construction in July 2014.