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Proceedings Paper

Sloan Digital Sky Survey: performance and lessons learned from the first two years of operations
Author(s): William N. Boroski; James E. Gunn; Richard G. Kron; John Peoples
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Paper Abstract

Over a 5-year observing period, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) will acquire data to construct a digital 5-color photometric map of the Northern Galactic sky to about 23rd magnitude, and a correspondingly large and homogeneous spectroscopic survey. The SDSS is in a unique class of projects, in that all aspects of the SDSS infrastructure, from the telescopes and instruments, to software and operations staffing, were designed and assembled specifically to conduct this Survey. To ensure success, observing operations are run in production mode and performance metrics are used to measure progress over time. The methodology of preparing the performance baseline plan, and an assessment of Survey progress after two full years of operation, are reviewed and some lessons learned discussed. In particular, the SDSS has benefited greatly by asking peers in the field to participate in external reviews that periodically assess performance and offer independent, fresh views of potential areas of concerns. Additionally, difficulties caused by the absence of an experienced systems-engineering staff during the final phase of construction and commissioning are reviewed. The challenges of building a production machine out of complex and state-of-the-art sub-systems cannot be overstated. In the case of the SDSS, insufficient systems engineering led to problems meeting initial image quality requirements, primarily because of problems with the thermal performance of the telescope and its environment. A concerted campaign to deal with these issues was successful, but that success came rather later than we would have liked. The improvements made to address the situation, and the resulting increase in operational performance, are discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 December 2002
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4836, Survey and Other Telescope Technologies and Discoveries, (24 December 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.457297
Show Author Affiliations
William N. Boroski, Fermi National Acceleratory Lab. (United States)
James E. Gunn, Princeton Univ. (United States)
Richard G. Kron, Univ. of Chicago (United States)
John Peoples, Fermi National Accelerator Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4836:
Survey and Other Telescope Technologies and Discoveries
J. Anthony Tyson; Sidney Wolff, Editor(s)

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