May 31

AURA Distributes Initial Funding of US $900,000 to Contribute to the Development of Astronomy in Chile

Rubin Observatory set against a bright blue sky

Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

The monetary funding will support participation in the National Science Foundation-Department of Energy Vera C. Rubin Observatory related science in lieu of telescope time, and will be administered by the Fund Management Office of the Department of Astronomy of the University of Chile.

A new fund from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) for the development of Chilean astronomy was distributed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) to the University of Chile as part of an agreement for the upcoming start of operations of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, now under construction in the Coquimbo Region in Chile.

According to Rubin Observatory Director of Operations, Robert Blum, this initial funding exceeds US $900,000. The fund will be distributed over time with an annual delivery of US $850,000 while Rubin is in operation, with an annual increase of 3%.

Scientific Director of AURA in Chile and Deputy Director of NOIRLab, Stuartt Corder, explained, “Rubin has a very wide field of view, which will map the sky of the southern hemisphere every three to four nights, providing information on the changes it detects. Because it is carrying out this survey, there will be no applications for observing time as is traditionally done at the other telescopes that we have in Chile. Instead, to compensate for the 10% of observation time that AURA has committed to the Chilean astronomical community, there is an economic contribution.”

The fund will be administered by the Fund Management Office of the Astronomy Department of the University of Chile on behalf of the Chilean astronomical community. Its director, Patricio Rojo, said, “On May 30 we opened the Rubin/Chile fund for the first time to competition, which will be open for 60 days. This first call will distribute US$812 thousand, an amount that already has administration costs deducted, and will become the first public astronomical fund that the University of Chile will manage.”

The Rubin/Chile fund will support initiatives linked to science based on the Vera C. Rubin Observatory data and facilities, financing creative proposals from the extended astronomical community. It supports three areas of financing: Development and Research in Astronomy, Instrumentation, and Outreach and Education.

AURA Head of Mission in Chile, Alejandra Voigt, highlighted, “AURA has been in Chile for more than 60 years and has always had a close and cordial relationship with the community that hosts us. AURA is happy to continue contributing to the development of the Chilean astronomical community, which is also contributing a lot to us with its work in our facilities.”

Funding process

The proposals will be reviewed by an evaluation committee made up of seven members including a representative of the University of Chile, and three other members chosen at random from a group proposed by the Directors of astronomy departments of Chilean universities.

A fifth member will be chosen by the Chilean Astronomy Society (SOCHIAS for Spanish) among those names proposed by the Directors. These five members of the evaluation committee select two more people who are not astronomers, thus forming a committee of seven members. 

The evaluation committee of the Rubin/Chile fund will conduct an anonymous evaluation of the proposals in terms of their quality (60%) and their management competence (30%). It will only meet the proposers at the end of the process, when evaluating the work team (10%).

The application period closes on July 29 and the application for this fund can be found at

About Rubin

Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a groundbreaking new astronomy and astrophysics observatory under construction on Cerro Pachón in Chile, with first light expected in early 2025. It’s named after astronomer Vera Rubin, who provided the first convincing evidence for the existence of dark matter. The 8.4-meter telescope at Rubin Observatory, equipped with the largest digital camera in the world, will take detailed images of the southern hemisphere sky, covering the entire sky every few nights. Rubin will do this over and over for 10 years, creating a timelapse view of the Universe that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. Rubin Observatory’s 10-year survey is called the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

More information

Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a Federal project jointly funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, with early construction funding received from private donations through the LSST Discovery Alliance. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under the management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). The DOE-funded effort to build the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) is managed by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC). France provides key support to the construction and operations of Rubin Observatory through contributions from CNRS/IN2P3. Additional contributions from a number of international organizations and teams are acknowledged.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.

SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

NSF and DOE will continue to support Rubin Observatory in its Operations phase via NSF NOIRLab and DOE’s SLAC.