In-kind Program Update: Proposals reviewed, modified, and sent for approval, opportunities for US Science Collaboration members

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After an extensive (and COVID-extended) process, we’re pleased to inform you that the review of the 2020 international in-kind proposals is now complete. The Rubin Observatory staff and the Rubin LSST In-kind Contribution Evaluation Committee (CEC) carefully reviewed each proposed contribution, checking for technical feasibility and compliance with Rubin guidance, and evaluating for scientific impact. The Rubin in-kind contributions need to be properly embedded in a Rubin-affiliated “recipient” group, to ensure that the resources available to the US and Chilean science communities are indeed expanded as required, and so we took care to collect input from those recipients on their enthusiasm for the contributions, and what changes to the proposals they would need in order for the contributions to be successful. The outcome of the review was, for each proposed contribution, a recommendation to accept, reject, or accept with modifications, accompanied by review comments for the proposal teams (on how to modify their proposals) and to us (to help negotiate the data rights value of each contribution, and to help us guide the proposal teams and recipients as they get started). These reports were transmitted to the proposal teams on schedule in early March. Since then the Rubin In-kind Program Coordinators (IPCs) have been busy working with the proposal teams to implement the changes requested.

All told, 153 in-kind contributions were proposed. Of these, 141 were recommended for acceptance (73 with modification), 2 were withdrawn and 10 were rejected (in most cases because they had not been developed well enough in collaboration with the intended recipients). During the modification process, a further 4 contributions were postponed until funding is secured for them, leading to an initial in-kind program of 137 contributions. We expect this to grow a little bit over the next year or two as the program teams re-submit their delayed or rejected contributions.

This set of modified proposals constitutes the initial Rubin LSST in-kind program, which we will recommend to the US agencies in late April. We think it will add considerable value to Rubin Observatory and the LSST science enterprise, offsetting up to $20M of operations costs and providing nearly $180M worth of equivalent value in the form of new telescope time, supported datasets and computing resources (in an international network of Independent Data Access Centers, or IDACs), and software development effort that is largely “directable” by the recipient groups. Over the coming months, we’ll be communicating more about the opportunities for US investigators that these in-kind contributions will open, and working closely with the LSST Science Collaborations in particular to help them realize the full potential of the in kinds.

Best wishes,

Phil & Bob