B612 and Large Synoptic Survey Telescope
In the past year, you may have heard the B612 team mention the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, commonly known as LSST. However, you may not know the details about why LSST will make such a big contribution to Planetary Defense.
In brief, LSST is a telescope that will be able to take high-resolution pictures of very large areas enabling it to cover the night sky every few days. LSST is currently under construction in Chile, and at 27-feet across and with a 3200-megapixel camera, it will be the most powerful wide field survey telescope ever built.
LSST has a number of science goals, including investigating dark matter and galaxy formation, but it will also be looking for thousands of previously undiscovered potentially hazardous asteroids. While not built explicitly for asteroid detection, its sheer size and impressive new camera technology will allow it to discover 80 percent of potentially hazardous asteroids larger than 140m after about a decade of operation.
LSST is expected to see first light in 2021 and commence full science operations in 2022. At that time, we expect a “fire hose” of asteroid data. In fact, LSST should increase our asteroid discovery rate by more than a factor of 20! B612 is partnering with LSST to help prepare the way for that data to be most useful to the Planetary Defense community.
We are thrilled to be working with such an elite team, including Andrew Connolly, who is leading LSST’s simulation efforts; Lynne Jones, Performance Scientist; Mario Juric, Data Management Project Scientist; and Project Scientist Željko Ivezić, on such an impressive telescope and are looking forward to the flood of new asteroid data. We hope this short introduction to LSST give you an appreciation its importance to the Planetary Defense community.