Today at Berkeley Lab

Berkeley Lab Hosts DESI CD-3 Project Review


A large international panel of scientists, experts, and observers gathered from May 17-19 at Berkeley Lab to participate in a major DOE review of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), a Berkeley Lab-led project that is designed to probe the mysteries of dark energy by measuring the distance to galaxies and quasars, and to create a 3-D map of the universe.

The review, part of an approval process for Critical Decision 3 or CD-3 that is mandated by the U.S. Department of Energy, featured over 30 presentations by members of the DESI project collaboration, which is led by DESI Director Michael Levi of Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division. The project now involves more than 200 collaborators from about 40 institutions worldwide. Henry Heetderks of the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory is project manager, David Schlegel and Chris Bebek of the LBNL Physics Division are the co-project scientist and instrument scientist, respectively.

CD-3 approval, if granted by DOE following this review, will formally signal the construction start for DESI. It will be built at the Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz. Installation is expected to begin in 2018, and DESI first light and commissioning is expected in 2019.

Kurt Fisher, engineering and construction manager for the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Project Assessment, led the review.

“I’m very impressed with the thoroughness,” said Natalie Roe, director of the lab’s Physics Division, during a brief address to review team members. She also thanked DESI collaboration members for their ongoing work: “Without (you) we wouldn’t be here. It’s a terrific collaboration and the lab really appreciates what you’re doing.”

The DESI project completed a previous approval step, CD-2, in September 2015, and received CD-1 approval in September 2014 and CD-0 approval in June 2011.