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Published June 2023 | Published
Journal Article Open

Tuning the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Observing Strategy for Solar System Science


The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is expected to start the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) in early to mid-2025. This multiband wide-field synoptic survey will transform our view of the solar system, with the discovery and monitoring of over five million small bodies. The final survey strategy chosen for LSST has direct implications on the discoverability and characterization of solar system minor planets and passing interstellar objects. Creating an inventory of the solar system is one of the four main LSST science drivers. The LSST observing cadence is a complex optimization problem that must balance the priorities and needs of all the key LSST science areas. To design the best LSST survey strategy, a series of operation simulations using the Rubin Observatory scheduler have been generated to explore the various options for tuning observing parameters and prioritizations. We explore the impact of the various simulated LSST observing strategies on studying the solar system's small body reservoirs. We examine what are the best observing scenarios and review what are the important considerations for maximizing LSST solar system science. In general, most of the LSST cadence simulations produce ±5% or less variations in our chosen key metrics, but a subset of the simulations significantly hinder science returns with much larger losses in the discovery and light-curve metrics.

Additional Information

© 2023. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. The authors wish to acknowledge all of the essential workers who have put their health at risk since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the researchers who worked tirelessly to rapidly develop COVID-19 vaccines. Without all their efforts, we would not have been able to pursue this work. We thank the LSST Solar System Science Collaboration for manuscript feedback. The authors thank Mike Brown for useful discussions. We thank the anonymous referee for reading and reviewing this very long manuscript and providing constructive feedback. The authors also acknowledge the SCOC for their service to the Rubin user community. We thank Federica Bianco and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Journals editorial team for facilitating the Rubin LSST Survey Strategy Optimization ApJS focus issue. This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System Bibliographic Services. This work was supported in part by the LSSTC Enabling Science grants program, the B612 Foundation, the University of Washington's DiRAC (Data-intensive Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology) Institute, the Planetary Society, and Adler Planetarium through generous support of the LSST Solar System Readiness Sprints. M.E.S. was supported by the UK Science Technology Facilities Council (STFC) grant ST/V000691/1, and she acknowledges travel support provided by STFC for UK participation in LSST through grant ST/N002512/1. K.V. acknowledges support from the Preparing for Astrophysics with LSST Program funded by the Heising Simons Foundation (grant 2021–2975), from NSF (grant AST-1824869), and from NASA (grants 80NSSC19K0785, 80NSSC21K0376, and 80NSSC22K0512). M.T.B. appreciates support by the Rutherford Discovery Fellowships from New Zealand Government funding, administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi. M.S.K. was supported by the NASA Solar System Observations program (80NSSC20K0673). H.W.L. is supported by NASA grant NNX17AF21G and by NSF grant AST-2009096. T.D. acknowledges support from the LSSTC Catalyst Fellowship awarded by LSST Corporation with funding from the John Templeton Foundation grant ID No. 62192. S.G. acknowledges support from the DIRAC Institute in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington. The DIRAC Institute is supported through generous gifts from the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences and the Washington Research Foundation. S.G. also acknowledges support from the Preparing for Astrophysics with LSST Program funded by the Heising Simons Foundation (grant 2021–2975), from NSF (grant OAC-1934752), and from NASA (grant 80NSSC22K0978). The work of S.R.C. was conducted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. R.C.D. acknowledges support from the UC Doctoral Scholarship and Canterbury Scholarship administered by the University of Canterbury, a PhD research scholarship awarded through M.T.B.'s Rutherford Discovery Fellowship grant, and an LSSTC Enabling Science grant awarded by LSST Corporation. R.M. acknowledges support from NSF (AST-1824869) and NASA (80NSSC19K0785). L.I. acknowledges support from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) within the ASI-INAF agreements I/024/12/0 and 2020-4-HH.0. This material or work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation through Cooperative Agreement AST-1258333 and Cooperative Support Agreement AST1836783 managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and the Department of Energy under contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515 with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory managed by Stanford University. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. Data Access: Data used in this paper are openly available from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory Construction Project and Operations Teams via https://github.com/lsst-pst/survey_strategy/tree/main/fbs_1.7 and https://github.com/lsst-pst/survey_strategy/tree/main/fbs_2.0. The rubin_sim/OpSim LSST cadence simulation databases are available at https://s3df.slac.stanford.edu/data/rubin/sim-data/. Facility: Rubin. - Software: LSST Metrics Analysis Framework (MAF, Jones et al. 2014), Astropy (Astropy Collaboration et al. 2013, 2018, 2022), Numpy (van der Walt et al. 2011; Harris et al. 2020), Matplotlib (Hunter 2007), Pandas (pandas development team, T 2020), rubin_sim/OpSim (Naghib et al. 2019; Jones et al. 2020; Yoachim et al. 2022), sbpy (Mommert et al. 2019), JupyterHub (https://jupyterhub.readthedocs.io/en/latest), Jupyter Notebook (Kluyver et al. 2016), Python (https://www.python.org), OpenOrb (Granvik et al. 2009), scipy (Virtanen et al. 2020), healpy (Górski et al. 2005; Zonca et al. 2019), seaborn (Waskom 2021). Author Contributions: M.E.S. organized and coordinated the paper writing effort, as well as the review of the LSST cadence simulations and drafting of formal SSSC feedback to the SCOC that this work is derived from. She wrote the abstract, Sections 1, 2.3.4, 3, 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2.1, 4.4.1, 5.1, and the preambles to Sections 4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 4.7, 5. She also cowrote Sections 6 and 5.2. She generated the figures showing the footprints, discovery, and light-curve metrics, as well as color light-curve metrics based on software utilities and jupyter notebooks developed by R.L.J. and P.Y. She also contributed to the Planet Nine figures (Figures 6 and 7). She also created Tables 2–6. She also provided feedback on the entire manuscript. R.L.J. and P.Y. provided guidance on the jupyter notebook templates used to develop the paper figures. They provided expert feedback on the performance and behavior of the Rubin scheduler and metrics. They also contributed to the discussions about the MAF metric outputs for all the cadence simulation families. They also contributed to Figure 24. R.L.J. wrote Sections 2.2, 2.3, and subsections within. R.L.J. created Tables 1 and 9 and produced the key plots for Figures 1, 6, and 7. P.Y. wrote Section 2.1 and generated Figure 39. K.V. wrote Sections 4.1.3 and 4.4.2, created Table 7, and provided feedback on the whole manuscript. R.C.D. wrote Section 4.6 and cowrote Sections 5.2 and 5.3. C.O. wrote Sections 4.3 and 4.2.2 and provided feedback on the overall manuscript. S.G. aided in reviewing the LSST cadence simulations and drafting the formal SSSC feedback to the SCOC. In particular, she led the review and formal feedback for the low-SE twilight NEO microsurvey, soliciting and organizing discussion and feedback from the NEOs and ISOs SSSC working group. She wrote Section 4.7.1, cowrote Section 6, and provided feedback on the overall manuscript. T.L. wrote Sections 4.4.4 (Third Visits in a Night) and 4.7.2 (Other Microsurveys), contributed to Section 6 (Conclusions), and provided feedback on the overall manuscript. C.S. wrote Section 4.5 and provided feedback on the overall manuscript. B.T.B. wrote Section 4.2.3 (Other Variations of Exposure Times) and provided feedback on Sections 4.4.4 (Third Visits in a Night) and 4.7.1 (Low-SE Solar System Twilight microsurvey). L.I. wrote Section 4.4.3, contributed to the discussion presented in Section 4.2.2, and provided feedback on the overall manuscript. M.T.B. wrote Section 5.4 and cowrote Section 4.6. S.E. led the writing of Section 5.3, provided input on Section 5.4, and contributed the description of the simulated 'Ayló'chaxnim population in Section 2.2. M.S. provided feedback discussion and maintained the list of simulations across the manuscript and figures. M.S.K. wrote the introduction to Section 2, developed the cometary brightening function implemented in the OCC metric, provided input on the OCC simulations, created the orbit OCC files, and provided feedback on the overall manuscript. M.J. contributed text to Section 4.7.1 and provided feedback on the overall manuscript. H.W.L. created Figure 5. A.T., D.R., M.M.K., R.M., T.D., and Q.Y. provided feedback on the overall manuscript. M.G. contributed to the discussions about astrometric precision and orbital characterization for Section 2.3.4 and provided feedback on the overall manuscript. C.L. provided feedback on Section 2. P.H.B. and W.J.O. contributed to discussions about the Planet Nine discoverability. S.R.C., J.D., D.R., W.C.F., and A.T. contributed to the development of light-curve metrics. W.C.F. also provided the TNO SED. M.E.S., with contributions from R.L.J., M.J., S.G., P.Y., S.E., M.S., and M.T.B., drafted the response to the referee report and revised the manuscript based on the referee's feedback.

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023