TOM Toolkit Workshop and Observing Program


TOM Toolkit Workshop/Hackathon and Observing Program

LCO, together with ZTF, LSSTC, SOAR and Gemini, wishes to encourage and support community participation in our efforts to develop a more integrated time domain follow-up system for the LSST era. With that aim we are announcing a program, starting with a workshop/hackathon and continuing into a year-long observational research activity. Resources to support this (both telescope time and funding) will be provided to accepted teams.

Goals of the Program 

  • Develop community understanding of the most efficient and effective tools and procedures for time domain astronomy research,
  • Motivate the creation and improvement of software tools to support this research, including particularly those applicable to the TOM Toolkit that LCO is releasing,
  • Create a community of experts spanning science and software who can assist others in using these tools into and through the LSST era.

Elements of the Program 

The workshop/hackathon, planned for the ~Sept 2019 timeframe. This will include presentations about the potential and planned capabilities of the TOM Toolkit, as well as the external services that could be integrated into a TOM.  Teams will have time to begin working on their TOM, with support from the TOM Toolkit team.  Travel funding will be available to the teams selected for participation.

An exclusive proposal process for teams which attend the workshop.  Full details will be announced at the workshop, and selected teams will receive resources to carry out their TOM development and their observational research project. 

A period of TOM development and live testing, during which the LCO TOM Toolkit team, including software engineers, will assist the TOM development activities of the selected groups. LCO will make available some time on its telescope network to all teams to test out the functionality of their TOM and the viability of their observing project.

resource proposal, following development of the TOM, in which teams will request the telescope time on some or all of LCO, SOAR and Gemini facilities and funding that they will need to carry out their project.

The observing program, which will start in December 2019 and continue through November 2020. During this time, teams will be receiving alerts from ZTF and other time domain surveys and making follow-up observation requests of the participating observatories, currently LCO, SOAR and Gemini.

A final presentation and discussion of accomplishments and lessons learned at the January 2020 AAS meeting. This will be an opportunity to educate the broader community about time domain astronomy research.

Proposal Criteria

We are looking for proposals that (a) have the potential to produce scientific results of importance and high visibility by identifying a sample of targets from an active alert stream and obtaining follow-up observations, (b) include the development of new software infrastructure and observing procedures, and (c) effectively utilize the resources that we will provide for this activity.

This opportunity is open to professional teams worldwide.  The LSST alert stream will be world public, and we wish to elicit as broad a range of scientific interests and as diverse a set of users as we can.

Proposal Outline

For more information, contact

Proposals should give names and institutional affiliations of PI and other participants.

Proposals should include the following sections (with page limits)

Executive Summary (10 lines) - Summarize both the scientific and development aspects of the project proposed.

Scientific Justification (1 page) - Justification should make the case for the scientific impact of the project, both within the area of study and more broadly.

Experimental Design (1 page) - This section should explain the source of alerts and the processing and decision-making that will be needed to identify targets for the sample.  It should describe the follow-up observations needed, including the time-scales and cadences that will be required.  It should include an estimate of the sample size.

TOM Development (1/2 page) - This section should include description of the needed capabilities for the TOM and what resources and constraints apply to its development.  Provide information about any deadlines that will influence the development schedule.

Strength of the team to carry out this activity (1/2 page) - This section should describe the background, skills, and experience that the team members bring.  The proposal review will consider both the scientific credibility and potential and the software design and implementation expertise.  

This initial proposal will not include the resource request.  Travel support to attend the workshop/hackathon will be provided to all accepted teams.  LCO will make available time on its network for testing of the TOM that each team will be developing.  Following the initial development phase, a second proposal will be solicited for the telescope time and financial resources needed to carry out the observing.  LCO plans to make available up to 100 hours of time on its network to each team.  Gemini plans to make available a small amount (TBD) of time on its telescopes.  We expect to have sufficient funding available to support the activities of all ten projects, including software development, team meetings, and IT or other special equipment, up to a level of about $15,000 per project.

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