1. Characteristics of the LSST Database
  1. LSST AND BIG DATA

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Era of Big Data Provides Opportunities and Challenges
The term “Big Data” refers not only to the volume of data, but the complexity
of data processing necessary to extract knowledge from that data. The old
method of gathering data to answer a question or validate a hypothesis
is giving way to data-driven exploration and discovery. That is, complex
datasets of high dimensionality are “mined” to discover connections and
relationships you never knew existed - you have the information to answer
the question before you know what question to ask. The data itself drives
the discovery.
LSST will facilitate data-driven explorations of the most fundamental
questions of the Universe. By measuring tiny distortions in billions of
galaxies, LSST will provide information about the origin and distribution of
Dark Matter. Mapping evidence of cosmic acceleration will provide answers
about Dark Energy and resolve fundamental questions in our understanding
of physics. The motions of billions of stars can be measured individually to
construct an understanding of how our Galaxy was formed through a history
of cosmic mergers. Detecting and then tracking the orbital paths of tens of
thousands of moving objects will complete a census of potentially harmful
Near Earth Objects. Rarely observed events will become commonplace, new
and unanticipated events will be discovered, and the combination of LSST
with contemporary space-based missions will provide powerful synergies.
Characteristics of the LSST Database
To the user, LSST is a database, not a telescope. LSST will be like a giant
“search engine” of the sky, digitizing and making available in a non-
proprietary database the locations, motions, and characteristics of 20 billion
galaxies and 20 billion stars. LSST will survey the visible night sky for ten
years, generating a motion picture of the Universe. This relentless survey
cadence will result in a complete dataset of high dimensionality, allowing
exploration in both time and space. Discovery and sophisticated analysis of
relationships buried in the data will require new algorithms that are scalable
and afordable as well as novel database architectures. LSST scientists
and engineers have already been recognized for advances in extremely
large database technology
1
.These
capabilities have value to fields far from
astronomy and physics including defense, finance, medicine, and behavioral sciences. The open source and non-
proprietary LSST database will be valuable as a training set for the education of the 21st century STEM workforce.
1
http://go.usa.gov/Gsi
National Petascale Computing Facility
(NCSA/University of Illinois)
LSST will characterize billions of individual
galaxies and stars, such as these produced
with the LSST Image Simulator.

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LSST AND BIG DATA
LSST Project Office, 950 N. Cherry Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719

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