Users Committee Report (Fri Nov 4 )

Rubin Observatory Users Committee

Report from 2022B meeting (4 November 2022)

This report reflects discussions at both PCW 2022 and the UC’s November meeting.

We congratulate the Rubin Team on their continued success with engaging the user community.
In particular, PCW 2022 was very positive and generated a great deal of enthusiasm and fostered many collaborations.


  • The notebooks and documentation for the DP0 user materials are generally very well done and quite helpful. Suggestions for improvements include:
  1. A simple, single “version change” page for the history of notebooks and/or tutorials, highlighting major updates.
  2. Links to the tutorials - both for notebook and portal tutorials in more places, including the platform home page ( Some material is difficult to locate without multiple clicks.
  3. An FAQ page would also be helpful.
  • We commend the project for taking advantage of the available DESC data to help the Dark Energy, TDA, and MW communities to prepare for commissioning and ops. We recommend that the project provide simulated data sets for other science communities.

For example, the Solar System community is expected to deliver major, outsized, early science contributions within days to months of the start of operations: from rapid discoveries of new interstellar objects, identifications of hazardous asteroids, to potential detections of new planets in the solar system. It is therefore critically important for this community to be fully on board and ready to utilize all LSST resources to realize this potential. However, at the moment, there are no products serving this community available within the RSP.

Without such products many users will not be able to start using the RSP in meaningful ways until real data are available. A resulting concentration of demand for guidance and help at the start of the survey could put a significant strain on the CET. Related to that, a lack of relevant test data makes it difficult for users to help with commissioning.

  • Similarly, many users will use the alert streams as their primary data sources or processing triggers. Using alerts and alert streams is still new to many scientists. It is important that simulated alerts, even a limited number of them, cover more of the use cases. We recommend the brokers or project provide a set of simulated alert packets based on DP0.2 DC2 data to provide concrete examples of alerts.

  • Target of Opportunity observations is another area where additional preparatory interaction with users would be very helpful. A meeting focused on ToOs has been recommended by the SCOC in their Phase 2 report (Bianco, private communication). It is important to involve in it a broad community to understand what services / tools the community may benefit from. Guidance from Rubin Operations, incorporating input from the community, regarding how much time for ToOs will be available and needed would be very helpful. A ToO policy should likely be focused on best use of NOIRLab/US OIR resources broadly, and not just about Rubin/LSST.

  • We recommend the project provide a characterization and validation report for DP0.2. Such a report would be of significant interest and use to help build toward the fuller and larger reports that will come with DP1, DP2, and DR1. These reports are part of the interface between the Rubin/LSST data and the scientific community.

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Thanks @Users-Committee! Below, I am posting the response from Rubin Observatory with actions taken (or in some cases, clarification of existing resources). Further comments are welcome in this thread.

1. Improvements to the DP0 notebooks and documentation

2. Simulated data sets for other science communities
Plans are in place to host simulated solar system catalogs as DP0.3 at the Rubin IDF sometime between July and September 2023 (see RTN-050 for details).

3. Simulated alert packets based on DP0.2
The Rubin Observatory worked with the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) to set up their alert distribution system (Patterson et al. 2019), and the ZTF alerts – which are currently being ingested, processed, and made available to users by several brokers – remain the best precursor data set for the LSST. Rubin aims to scale up alert production during commissioning with the aim of beginning routine Alert Production as soon as is feasible following System First light (Jul-Aug 2024; see RTN-011).

4. Provide guidance on target of opportunity policies
We are working on this. It is partly addressed by discussions of the SCOC, but not formally described in their recent phase 2 recommendation. The SCOC will continue to develop the details of the ToO plan which includes a recommended total of up to 3% observing time per year (phase 2 recommendation). We expect those details to be included in a future SCOC recommendation before the start of LSST observations. Rubin is looking into organizing a workshop this year with the ToO interested community to better understand how Rubin can support ToO’s within the 3%. Rubin continues to discuss follow-up infrastructure development with NOIRLab and as part of the in-kind program. These resources are or will be provided though the AEON infrastructure of NOIRLab. For more details about Rubin’s plan for GW ToO, see RTN-008.

5. Provide a characterization and validation report for DP0.2
Full verification and validation reports will be provided for all data releases starting with Data Preview 1. As DP0.2 is simulated data with perfect reference catalogs, characterization and performance numbers would not be very meaningful (and could be misleading).