SLAC Colloquium Series

SLAC Colloquium Series


Colloquium Detail

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Technical Progress and Selections from the "Science Book"

Date: 3/1/2010

Steve Kahn
SLAC and Stanford University

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST, is proposed to be a large aperture, wide-field ground-based optical telescope designed to survey the entire visible sky (20,000 square degrees) in six colors every few nights. As such, it will produce an enormous database suitable for a wide variety of scientific investigations ranging from studies of small bodies in the solar system to constraints on the nature of dark energy and dark matter on cosmic scales. A large project team has been assembled at many institutions distributed across the country to design and build this facility.

In today's colloquium, Deputy Project Director and Lead Scientist for the Camera on LSST Steve Kahn will report on recent technical progress on the telescope, the 3.2 Gigapixel camera, and the data management system, all of which present novel technical challenges. Over the past year, the project has convened a set of science collaborations which have collectively generated a 600-page "LSST Science Book" that details the expected performance characteristics of LSST in addressing a wide range of astrophysical and cosmological problems. More than 250 scientists contributed text to that volume. Kahn will review some of the highlights from the Science Book in the latter half of his talk.

For most of his career, Kahn was an X-ray astrophysicist, specializing in high resolution X-ray spectroscopy of cosmic sources. He was the U.S. principal investigator for the development of the Reflection Grating Spectrometer experiment, launched in December 1999 and still flying on the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory. This experiment provided the first high resolution X-ray spectra for many classes of astrophysical sources. He switched to experimental cosmology when he moved to Stanford in 2003, and led SLAC and the Department of Energy into LSST. His intellectual interests in LSST mainly involve using weak lensing to constrain the nature of dark energy.

Kahn is currently the Cassius Lamb Kirk Professor in the Natural Sciences at Stanford, and served as deputy director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology from 2003 to 2007, as well as associate lab director and director of SLAC's Particle Physics and Astrophysics Division from 2007 to 2009. In August 2010, he will Become Chair of Physics at Stanford.

Last update: October 03, 2013