LSST in STFC Astronomy Programme Evaluation
LSST was one of only three projects - the others being ELT and SKA - awarded the top alpha5 grade for scientific excellence by the Astronomy Programme Evaluation panel in their review of the current UK astronomy programme. Their report will provide input into the 2020 STFC Balance of Programme exercise and this evaluation confirms LSST as a central plank in the STFC astronomy programme for the coming decade.
The panel highlighted LSST as an example of the kind of "broad-goal, large, international project" for which involvement by the UK is "deemed essential to ensure that [it] remains a leader in multiple aspects of astronomy." Furthermore, they noted that "LSST has strong synergies with the other facilities that form the core of the UK’s future astronomy programme" and the UK community is already very actively engaged in LSST, several years before the start of survey operations, concluding that "Losing access to LSST data would significantly weaken the UK’s position in the international astronomical community, especially in terms of the multi-messenger global astronomy programme."
LSST was also highlighted in the Skills pipeline/Career development section of the report, as one of the coming generation of "big data" facilities that are driving requirements for greater funding for the training of early career researchers in large-scale data analysis and for provision of clear career paths for the research software engineers needed to support the scientific exploitation of data from these facilities.