LSST: from Science Drivers to Reference Design and Anticipated Data Products


(Abridged) We describe here the most ambitious survey currently planned in the optical, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). A vast array of science will be enabled by a single wide-deep-fast sky survey, and LSST will have unique survey capability in the faint time domain. The LSST design is driven by four main science themes: probing dark energy and dark matter, taking an inventory of the Solar System, exploring the transient optical sky, and mapping the Milky Way. LSST will be a wide-field ground-based system sited at Cerro Pach’{o}n in northern Chile. The telescope will have an 8.4 m (6.5 m effective) primary mirror, a 9.6 deg$^2$ field of view, and a 3.2 Gigapixel camera. The standard observing sequence will consist of pairs of 15-second exposures in a given field, with two such visits in each pointing in a given night. With these repeats, the LSST system is capable of imaging about 10,000 square degrees of sky in a single filter in three nights. The typical 5$sigma$ point-source depth in a single visit in $r$ will be $sim 24.5$ (AB). The project is in the construction phase and will begin regular survey operations by 2022. The survey area will be contained within 30,000 deg$^2$ with $delta<+34.5^circ$, 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 uniformly observe a 18,000 deg$^2$ region about 800 times (summed over all six bands) during the anticipated 10 years of operations, and yield a coadded map to $rsim27.5$. The remaining 10% of the observing time will be allocated to projects such as a Very Deep and Fast time domain survey. The goal is to make LSST data products, including a relational database of about 32 trillion observations of 40 billion objects, available to the public and scientists around the world.