Inria Chile visits the Vera C. Rubin Observatory

Date :
Changed on 08/06/2023
Inria Chile plays a fundamental role in the operation of the largest digital camera in astronomical history and 30 other components of the observatory, where they seek to solve mysteries of the universe and generate science.
Credit © Inria Chile / Mía Elbo y Sebastián Aranda de Inria Chile, realizan pruebas del sistema L.O.V.E en la sala de operaciones del Observatorio Vera C. Rubin, 22 de septiembre de 2022.


A team of researchers from Inria Chile traveled to Cerro Pachón in the Coquimbo Region to observe the construction of this eight-meter, 3.2-gigapixel telescope and the implementation of the software being developed by Inria Chile for its operation.

The delegation, led by Sebastián Aranda, leader of the L.O.V.E. (LSST Operations and Visualization Environment) team at Inria Chile, and Mia Elbo, UX/UI designer of the team, was able to witness the progress in the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. This area, which already houses two other observatories - SOAR and Gemini - provides a privileged view of the night sky for studying stars.

The objective of Inria Chile's visit was to review and analyze the needs and requirements of the telescope operators and to observe in real time how the L.O.V.E. system is working, the operations interface and the visualization of processes that facilitates the monitoring of the systems by the two operators at the site.


It is different to review the needs on site and thus adapt to the requirements of those using L.O.V.E. As it is an electronic telescope, the processes are automated and we have to leave them ready to work automatically for the 10 years of the project.


Sebastián Aranda


Software engineer at Inria Chile and L.O.V.E. leader

When it begins its operations in 2023 (subject to change), this telescope will revolutionize the field of astronomy and the study of the universe: for a decade, it will conduct a Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

The 8.4-meter ground-based telescope with a 3.2-gigapixel, 2,800-kilogram digital camera (the largest digital camera built for astronomical studies) will have an automated data processing system that will help in observe the nature of dark matter and understand dark energy; to create a catalog of the solar system; to explore the changing sky and the structuring and formation of the Milky Way.

Each night the telescope will generate 20 terabytes of data, and will need three nights to be able to take a picture of the entire sky. Over the 10 years of operation, these photos will produce a "timelapse" of the night sky in which its evolution can be appreciated. During that period, hundreds of petabytes of processed information will be produced, which is equivalent to hundreds of thousands of terabytes (the average personal computer disk stores 0.5 terabytes). In just one week of operation, this telescope will produce a larger astronomical catalog than ever before.

Currently, interaction tests are being carried out, although all its parts are still separate, but interacting with each other, their correct operation must be verified. L.O.V.E. monitors all processes and movements, detecting failures for the correct operation of more than 30 systems and subsystems, which capture about 4,400 parameters per second.

This project is part of the partnership that Inria Chile has had with AURA since 2018.


Through L.O.V.E we contribute by achieving that the quality of the human-computer interaction models developed allows operators to have optimal control of operations during observing days. This telescope is one of only four of its kind in the world and the amount of data that will be handled needs to be presented in a clear and timely manner.


Nayat Sánchez-Pi


CEO of Inria Chile