Implementation Details for the US/Chile Commissioning Announcement of Opportunity Program

In June 2021, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory announced an opportunity for members of the US and Chilean science community to join the Rubin Observatory Rubin Observatory System Integration, Test, and Commissioning (SIT-Com) team and contribute to an efficient and successful transition to Operations.

In October 2021, 18 groups submitted full Letters of Interest in response to the Announcement of Opportunity for Community Engagement in Rubin Observatory Commissioning (SITCOMTN-010).

In January 2022, the SIT-Com team invited multiple groups to move forward making arrangements to directly participate in Rubin commissioning, and provided each group with a set of initial work assignments to begin this calendar year. These agreements will be formalized with brief MOUs in early 2022. As part of the process to draft MOUs and begin the onboarding process, the accepted groups are asked to respond to these invitations by 8 March 2022, and to provide a list of named individuals who are planning to meet minimum effort thresholds for participation in this program.

This post summarizes questions and answers related to the detailed implementation of the US/Chile Commissioning Announcement of Opportunity program, and is intended to help accepted groups plan and allocate resources to participate effectively in commissioning.

The questions are grouped by theme.

Updating group composition

Q1: In general when, if at all, will we be able to add new people to our teams, and are the names of junior people replaceable now? Do “to be named” graduate students need to be named at this point? What happens when a student graduates / postdoc moves to a new position?

A1: In general, groups making in-kind contributions to commissioning are expected to be relatively stable in order to maintain efficiency and continuity. That said, SIT-Com understands that research teams are dynamic and that employment situations change. Therefore, designated Point of Contacts will be able to request updates to the list of named individuals in their group in order to more effectively contribute to the commissioning effort. Changing the team composition will have an effect on access to commissioning data and will be resolved on a case-by-case basis. “To be named” graduate students and postdocs do NOT need to be named at the time of establishing MOUs in early 2022; however, accepted groups are asked to include a placeholder for each of the “To be named” individuals in their invitation responses.

Example future update requests could include:

  • Naming a specific individual for a previously indicated “To be Named” role
  • Replacing a graduate student with a different graduate student
  • Adding a new graduate student / postdoc to the group to increase the value of the contribution (see discussion of advisor/advisee units below)

In general, once an individual has been accepted into the SIT-Com team they will continue their membership until the completion of Rubin Observatory construction and Data Preview 2 release. This includes individuals who change positions / move institutions provided that they satisfy the criteria of the Rubin Data Policy (RDO-013).

If an individual wishes to discontinue their involvement, they are asked to notify their group Point of Contact and relevant Rubin Observatory staff. Individuals leaving the SIT-Com team remain bound by the policies and guidelines regarding distribution of technical and scientific data and results, and are not permitted to use information acquired during their collaboration with Rubin Observatory for their own purposes while this information is privileged.

Confirming the effort list

Q2: What should we include on the list of individuals who would be able to commit to the minimum effort level thresholds? Do we need to list their precise anticipated FTE fractions? Do we need to get commitments now from people other than those who would be working in the first year? Also, do we need to coordinate with the international groups before the 8 March deadline?

A2: The primary purpose of requesting a list of named individuals meeting the minimum effort thresholds is to draft MOUs and to begin the onboarding process, which involves creating accounts and providing credentials for the named individuals.

The anticipated annual FTE fractions for each individual do NOT need to be provided at the time of establishing MOUs in early 2022.

To the extent possible, we ask accepted groups to include the names of ALL individuals (and to indicate open student/postdoc positions) who are planning to be engaged at the minimum effort threshold during the commissioning effort in their invitation responses in order to draft MOUs and begin the onboarding process. For example, an individual contributing at the minimum effort threshold during the 2023 calendar year should include their name in the current invitation response.

The SIT-Com team expects that there will be a natural ramp-up of effort over the coming two years, and that individuals in the groups will become engaged as appropriate to complete work assignments. Additional work assignments will be given as construction progresses. Given uncertainties in the construction schedule, the SIT-Com team will work with contributing groups to update work assignments to reflect the current status and needs of the commissioning effort.

The anticipated May 2022 starting date for work assignment reflects the time needed for onboarding, training, and learning the intricacies of working within the Rubin system prior to the arrival of on-sky data from ComCam and LSSTCam. Groups are therefore encouraged to start engaging early, even if their core tasks are planned for later stages of the commissioning effort.

SIT-Com is currently processing the accepted international in-kind contributions that involve commissioning in order to match proposed contributions to needed tasks and to refine work assignments. The invited groups do NOT need to coordinate with international in-kind efforts before 8 March 2022.

Q3: What is the definition of FTE for University Faculty?

A3: For university faculty, effort thresholds should be interpreted as including supervision of their group (e.g., students and postdocs) in addition to their own research time. SIT-Com recognizes that faculty advisors and students/postdocs under their direct supervision often work most effectively as a team. A common model involves a graduate student working at a higher effort level (FTE) paired with a faculty advisor who shares their experience and expertise to increase the value of their advisee’s contributions. This mode of work relies on faculty advisors having invested considerable time in the past to engage deeply in astronomical surveys/instrumentation, to have built up the knowledge base to effectively advise students, and to make judicious choices of how to invest smaller amounts of their own time. This mode of team work simultaneously provides valuable training experience to early career scientists and meaningful contributions to commissioning.

SIT-Com will therefore recognize university faculty advisor+student(s) “units” that meet/exceed the required time commitment in total, rather than requiring faculty to commit to the minimum time commitment individually. When responding to the invitation, university faculty who would be contributing in this mode should indicate the individuals they will be directly advising.

Q4: Would it be possible for Rubin to make publicly available a list of names of participants associated with tasks? This could be helpful to science collaboration members when applying for support, for example.

A4: The Project plans to make the list of community participants in Rubin Observatory commissioning publicly available.

Sharing data and algorithm development

Q5: To what extent are data sets used for analysis and results from analysis work allowed to be shared? What about discussions of algorithmic techniques? For data sets DESC does have access to, can we copy them to NERSC? In general, is there guidance as to what sorts of results and data can be distributed outside of SIT-COM?

A5: Rubin Observatory Data Management follows an open development model and the LSST Science Pipelines are open source. Algorithms for Rubin Observatory data analysis and their implementation in the LSST Science Pipelines may be freely discussed.

In general, it is NOT permitted to copy/move data products from Rubin Observatory computing facilities to other locations without explicit permission, other than the Data Previews. Requests to share specific datasets (e.g., to bring added value to commissioning goals) can be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

The Rubin Data Policy (RDO-013) defines proprietary data products and derived data products. For commissioning work assignments using non-proprietary precursor datasets (e.g., from HSC and DECam), non-proprietary simulated datasets (e.g., DESC DC2), AuxTel datasets, and electro-optical datasets from ComCam and LSSTCam, resultant derived data products may be freely shared. For on-sky ComCam and LSSTCam data, no proprietary data products from commissioning may be shared beyond the Project prior to the associated Data Preview without explicit approval. The detailed policy for sharing derived data products obtained from on-sky ComCom and LSSTCam data prior to associated Data Previews is to be determined.

Q6: Are participants allowed to discuss details related to their work assignments with scientific collaborators?

A6: Members of the SIT-Com team are allowed to discuss their work assignments openly, and are welcome to consult with scientific collaborators and to provide regular updates on the status of their contributions. The following boundary conditions apply to these communications, as described in the Commissioning Announcement of Opportunity (SITCOMTN-010).

1. SIT-Com members are expected to follow guidance regarding types of internal communications and information that may be shared with the wider Rubin community (e.g., embargoed data products and results).
2. SIT-Com members are responsible for following professional standards of conduct adopted by the Project.
3. SIT-Com members should strive for collaborative and collegial interactions that benefit the entire Rubin Community, and to recognize the contributions of the many individuals that have contributed to the Project. Participants should exercise judgment and consider the impacts of their words and actions when discussing their work assignments and the status of commissioning in the broader community.

As noted in the Commissioning Announcement of Opportunity, the Project can decide to terminate a group’s or person’s role on the team status at any time due to poor performance or undue overhead.

Computing resources

Q7: If we are embedded in the SIT-Com team, will we have access to all resources available to Project members (e.g., NCSA computing)? Should DESC members be using NCSA or NERSC?

A7: Members of the SIT-Com team, including in-kind contributors, will be provided access to computing resources needed to perform their assigned tasks. In practice, all individuals will be provided with a basic set of credentials, and additional levels of access and permissions will be granted as needed to complete work assignments.

In general, work done as part of the Commissioning AO program should be done using Rubin Observatory computing resources so that analyses can be more easily reproduced by other members of the SIT-Com team, and so that new developments can be readily incorporated into Rubin Observatory software. Contributions are most valuable when analyses can be automated and routinely run by the Project. Development work can be performed on other compute facilities with the understanding that the eventual goal is to perform analyses using Rubin Observatory compute resources.

The Project is currently in the process of migrating work from the LSST Data Facility (LDF; NCSA) to the US Data Facility (USDF; SLAC). Commissioning work assignments will use either the USDF or the Commissioning Cluster in Chile, or both, for data processing and science verification and validation work. These computing facilities are currently being stood up, and there might be a period of a few months after May 2022 to fully transition commissioning work to utilize these resources. Commissioning work will not use LDF or the Interim Data Facility (IDF; cloud-based).

It will not be possible to transfer ComCam and LSSTCam on-sky commissioning data to NERSC prior to the Data Preview release dates. DESC can use NERSC for preparing/training their codes on precursor and/or simulated data available at NERSC.