Observing Operations | Reviews | Survey Management

The Charge

For the Review of
Sloan Digital Sky Survey Observing Systems and Operations

Apache Point Observatory 
April 25-27, 2000


The construction phase of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is complete, the testing phase is nearly complete, and commissioning operations have been underway for some time. Science quality data has been obtained from the commissioning operations, analyzed, and published. The Survey is now making the transition from commissioning to routine operations. This transition is not complete and there is much to be done as we shift our focus from building and testing equipment to making the equipment reliable and efficient. At the same time, we are building a scientific staff, which will bring to fruition the goals that we established a decade ago. These goals were to image about 10,000 square degrees of the Northern Galactic Cap; to select from those images a million objects, primarily galaxies and quasars; to obtain spectra of those objects; and to create a catalog of those images and spectra, first for the astronomers from the participating institutions and then for the astronomy community-at-large.

We are planning two reviews of the Survey in order to help us set our course for the next five years. The first review, which will be held at Apache Point, from April 25 to 27, will examine whether the Observing Systems and the Observatory Support will be able to sustain the five years of observing and produce the quality of data that is needed to achieve our scientific objectives. The second review will be held at Fermilab, the site of the SDSS data processing and distribution, prior to the end of July. In that review we will ask the reviewers to examine whether the data processing operations can process the data in a timely manner and effectively distribute it to the collaboration and then the astronomy community at large in accordance with our distribution plan developed in cooperation with the National Science Foundation.

The specific charge for the review of the Observing Systems and Observatory support is contained in three sets of questions, which we would like this Committee to answer:

  • Will the Observing Systems, with the proposed improvements, be ready to support the five-year survey? Will they, as you find them on April 25, be sufficient to achieve our scientific goals?
  • Has the observing staff been prepared to support a five-year survey? In particular has the SDSS Management given them the tools and training to carry out the survey? Is the size of the observing staff sufficient to support a five-year survey?
  • Does the project have sufficient technical personnel at APO and the participating institutions to support the maintenance and continuous improvement of efficiency and reliability? Given the geographic dispersion of people will our management plan work?

Submit comments and questions to the SDSS Helpdesk. Last updated 04/01/14