There is much preparatory work to be done before LSST survey operations begin in 2022. UK researchers are already working with colleagues in the US and other international partner countries to develop the tools and techniques needed to store and analyse the unprecedented quantity of sky survey data that LSST will produce.
The scale and richness of the sky survey dataset to be generated by LSST pose as many challenges as they provide opportunities and the UK astronomical community is already getting organised to prepare for the arrival of the first LSST data.The community has formed the LSST:UK Consortium, with representation from all astronomy groups in the UK, which is undertaking two strands of preparatory activity.
Substantial funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has launched the LSST:UK Science Centre (LUSC) which will provide the tools and techniques needed to place the UK at the forefront of the scientific exploitation of the multi-Petabyte dataset that LSST will produce over its ten-year lifetime. This first phase of LUSC activity is prototyping the development of an LSST Data Access Centre for the UK, as well as targetting R&D effort into a set of key science areas where substantial progress must be made before LSST commissioning begins in late 2019.
In parallel with this grant-funded development effort, UK astronomers are participating in scientific working groups that are planning the key programmes to be undertaken with LSST and developing the international collaborative teams that will be required for their success. Strong synergies exist between LSST and a number of other major astronomical facilities planned for the 2020s, so another important task is to develop strategies to maximise the scientific return from the unparalleled collection of resources that astronomers will have at their disposal in the coming decade.