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TVS Task Force

Characterize the functionality needed from a community-broker interface

Work Plan

2018 Survey Results

How fast do you really need alerts?


Francisco Förster Buron, CMM-UChile / MAS
Suvi Gezari, University of Maryland
Melissa Graham, University of Washington/LSST
Ashish Mahabal, Caltech
Gautham Narayan, STScIQuestionnaire team
Markus Rabus, PUC, ChileSpokesperson
Keivan Stassun, Vanderbilt UniversityQuestionnaire team
Paula Szkody, University of WashingtonQuestionnaire team
Rachel Street, Las Cumbres Observatory Chair, Questionnaire team
Stephen Smartt, Queen’s University Belfast
Ken Smith, Queen’s University Belfast


The LSST Data Management (DM) software will deliver an alert package for every object in each image which exhibits some photometric or positional change. The scale of the survey leads us to anticipate millions of alerts per night and hence a computational challenge for astronomers to identify targets of specific interest for their science. In this context, we refer to a ‘broker’ as software which receives alert information, associates it with other data, performs classification functions according to numerous algorithms and criteria, and stores the information in a database. Brokers may issue secondary alerts, and may provide interfaces to enable users to sort targets and alters according to their own preferences. These users may be individual scientists, teams, or additional brokers working at a level of finer detail. They may also be accessed by many instances of Target/Observation Manager software, which are designed to prioritizing targets for a specific science goal, request follow-up observations, tracking progress and analyze the results.

While some astronomers are accustomed to responding to alerts and conducting ‘reactive’ follow-up observations in real-time, for many scientists this mode of operation is unfamiliar, making it difficult for them to envision how they will exploit LSST.

Meanwhile, substantial development of broker facilities is ongoing, including ANTARES (NOAO), Lasair (LSST:UK), ALeRCE (Chile). To maximize the science return from LSST as a whole, the user interfaces to these brokers need to be carefully designed to address the needs of the community.

Task Force (TF) Goals

  • Stimulate scientists from all fields in astronomy to think through how they will extract targets of interest from LSST, what information and data products they will require at each stage, timescales of delivery and modes of interaction with brokers.
  • Derive and document Scientific and Functional & Performance requirements

Work Plan and Deliverables

Broker Task Force Gantt Chart
  • Develop short introductory document to describe and publicize how the ‘broker ecosystem’ is envisioned to work. Develop questionnaire to be circulated to all LSST-SC members designed to stimulate scientists of all fields to think in detail about how they will conduct their science and hence what they will need from a broker.
  • Conduct the survey and collate the results
  • Develop Science Requirements document based on the results of the survey.

  • DeadlineMilestone
    March 9, 2018Deliver completed broker ecosystem document
    March 9, 2018Deliver completed survey questionnaire
    April 20, 2018Completed summary of survey responses and statistics
    May 18, 2018Complete v1.0 of Science Requirements document
    June 4-8, 2018Review v1.0 Science Requirements with broker developers, discussion session at TVS workshop
    July 6, 2018Complete v2.0 Science Requirements document