Twilight photo of Rubin Observatory taken in April 2021.
Twilight photo of Rubin Observatory taken in April 2021. Credit: Rubin Obs./NSF/AURA
Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction on Cerro Pachón in Chile, features an 8.4-meter telescope, a 3200 megapixel Camera, an automated data processing system, and an online public engagement platform.

Rubin Observatory will advance science in four main areas: the nature of dark matter and understanding dark energy, cataloging the Solar System, exploring the changing sky, and Milky Way structure and formation. 

Rubin Observatory will operate on an automated cadence, capturing an area the size of 40 full moons with each pair of 15-second exposures and returning to the same area of sky approximately every three nights. Over ten years of operations, hundreds of deep exposures will be acquired for every part of the visible sky. Dedicated computer facilities will process Rubin Observatory data in real time, issuing worldwide alerts within 60 seconds of detected changes in the sky. Prompt and data release products will be available to all U.S. and Chilean astronomers, and to Rubin Observatory’s in-kind contributors.

A subset of data will be widely available through the Rubin Observatory Education and Public Outreach (EPO) dynamic website portal, offering tools and activities for formal educators, citizen scientists, informal science centers, and the general public to engage, explore, and discover.

Rubin Observatory was the top-ranked large ground-based project in the 2010 Astrophysics Decadal Survey. Engineering and then science first light is expected in 2023 and full operations for the ten-year survey commencing in the second half of 2024. When operations begin, Rubin Observatory will be coordinated and managed by NSF’s NOIRLab. AURA operates the Vera C. Rubin Observatory for the National Science Foundation under a cooperative agreement.

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