Scientific Colloquium
October 10, 2018, 3:30 p.m.
Building 3, Goett Auditorium

"Observing the Universe Broadly, Deeply, and Frequently" 

For astronomical facilities, the combination of wide field of view, high sensitivity, broad energy range, and agility offers huge scientific opportunities and new ways of operating. I’ll discuss two seemingly very different observatories that share these characteristics. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), currently under construction, is an integrated survey system with an eight-meter class primary mirror and 3.2 gigapixel camera, designed to conduct a decade-long, deep, wide, fast time-domain survey of the entire optical sky visible from Cerro Pachón in central Chile. The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, launched into low-earth orbit in 2008, observes the whole sky every three hours at energies that are millions to trillions of times larger, using a huge array of particle detectors. The variety of objects these wonderful facilities can study spans from as close as our own planet to cosmological distances, and scientific topics include understanding the nature of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy. Large, rich data sets (LSST will produce an estimated 20TB of data per night) and diverse community needs pose important challenges and opportunities for software development that will also be discussed.
About the Speaker:

Steve Ritz is a professor of physics and the director of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to joining the faculty at UCSC he was an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, where he served as the Fermi (nee GLAST) Project Scientist from 2003 through most of the first year of science operations. In 2013, he took on the role of Camera Project Scientist for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). His current interests include studies related to understanding the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

In his spare time, Ritz has also been involved in several aspects of science policy, including most recently serving as chair of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) and co-chair of the National Academies’ Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Ritz received his B.A. in physics and music from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and he was a Sloan Foundation Fellow in Physics. In 2012, he received a UCSC Excellence in Teaching Award.
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