Program Goals

Network Capabilities

Information on what LCO can do

Astronomy is entering an era of time domain surveys of unprecedented scale.  A range of ground-based surveys and space-based missions, some of which are underway now, and some planned for the near future, will deliver public real-time alerts of transient and time variable astronomical phenomena of all kinds.  A wealth of science will stem from these discoveris and alerts, but much of it will depend on our ability to obtain follow-up observations in addition to the survey data.  For example, a recent study was conducted into the science which could result from follow-up of alerts from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which highlighted some of the challenges. 

While astronomers in a number of fields have run successful follow-up programs for several years, the rate of alerts from the next generation of surveys has the potential to overwhelm our observing resources and infrastructure unless we plan carefully.  One motivation of the LCO Open Access Program is to stimulate the community to gain experience with this kind of follow-up program and to tackle some of the challenges raised.   To this end, the NSF has purchased time on the LCO Network on behalf of the US community, though its MSIP program (read the original announcement here). 

The goals of the program are:

  • to effectively follow up on current time domain surveys, especially those with public distribution of data and alerts
  • to help the community prepare for time domain research in the LSST era by developing relevant programs, methods, and technologies.