The emergent Rubin LSST In-Kind program is starting to take shape! After a lot of hard work by the CEC this spring, we sent specific feedback to each of 36 international teams about the ideas they presented in their Letters of Intent on July 31, and also provided a “Handbook for Proposal Teams” to help them efficiently develop their LOIs (and any new ideas they have had in the meantime) into full proposals, which are nominally due by September 25. This schedule is more extended than was first planned, a consequence of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability of the CEC to function.
The CEC wasn’t able to meet in person this spring as planned, but we did have a 4-day face to face meeting, during which we were able to derive a uniform set of guidelines to help the teams write successful proposals that lead to a balanced program of high value in-kind contributions. You can read the resulting 55-page Handbook at ls.st/RDO-031, but you might find the introductory slides that we showed at last week’s Rubin 2020 PCW more useful as a starting point to understand what the proposal teams will be doing this summer. We had over a hundred participants to the PCW in-kind proposal-writing workshop sessions, and got some great questions. Rubin currently has 3 people working on supporting the proposal teams and developing the in-kind program: these International Program Coordinators are Greg Madejski (SLAC), and Knut Olsen & Steve Ridgway (NOIRLab). They are working on assembling an FAQ out of our workshop question and answer session notes, and will be posting that on here soon. We’ll also be working on various updates to the Handbook as we go, as a way of helping the teams follow the guidelines in the Handbook and make the best contributions they can. We recognize that streamlining processes and providing clear guidance can only get us so far, though: we heard some concerns about being able to meet the September deadline, so we’ll follow up with the proposal teams to better understand their needs.
Meanwhile, as the proposal teams’ “contribution leads” start working up the descriptions of their proposed activities and deliverables, they’ll be reaching out to various “recipient” groups in which those contributions will be embedded. We’re looking to integrate the-in kind contributions of telescope time, datasets, computing resources and software development effort firmly within on of the Rubin Observatory teams or LSST science collaborations, so that everyone in the LSST science community can benefit from them. The Handbook has plenty of guidance to get started, but in some cases (notably those where specific recipient group endorsement is needed) we will be adding additional notes and examples to it.
At Rubin, and in the CEC, we see the creation of the in-kind program very much as a collaborative activity, rather than a competitive call: the contributions will work better if we work on them together! So, we’ll be supporting the proposal teams as best we can, and encouraging them to work with the recipient groups to tailor their contributions to the recipients’ needs. We’re also encouraging all the recipient groups to treat the contributions coming to them as an opportunity to collaborate, and become stronger as a result. Rubin / LSST has been a large international collaboration for some time now: we’re trying to set up the in-kind program in that spirit.