Next Generation Astronomical Survey to Map the Entire Sky

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will award a $16 million grant for the next generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V) to the Astrophysical Research Consortium. 

Next Generation Astronomical Survey to Map the Entire Sky
This artist's impression shows a cutaway view of the parts of the Universe that SDSS-V will study. SDSS-V will study millions of stars to create a map of the entire Milky Way. Image by Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science/SDSS

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will award a $16 million grant for the next generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V) to the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC). The grant will boost a ground-breaking all-sky spectroscopic survey for a next wave of discovery, anticipated to start in 2020.

SDSS is currently directed by NYU Physics Professor Michael Blanton, who also chairs the SDSS-V Steering Committee.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is considered one of the most-successful and
influential surveys in the history of astronomy, creating the most-detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe ever made, with deep multi-color images of one third of the sky and spectra for more than three million astronomical objects.

“For more than 20 years, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey has defined excellence in astronomy,” says Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “SDSS-V continues that august tradition by combining cutting-edge research, international collaboration, technological innovation, and cost-effective grassroots governance. The Sloan Foundation is proud to be a core supporter of SDSS-V.”

The survey operates out of both Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, home of the survey’s original 2.5-meter telescope, and Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, where it uses Carnegie’s du Pont telescope.

Faculty in NYU’s Department of Physics have been instrumental to SDSS since its earliest phases, precisely calibrating its images and its measurements of the distribution of galaxies in the universe, detecting the faintest galaxies in universe, and unraveling the history of the Milky Way by measuring the ages of stars.

Blanton led the data management team during the third phase of SDSS (SDSS-III), distributing public data sets to thousands of astronomers, members of the public, and educators. As the SDSS-IV director since 2012, Blanton has worked to bring on line the new operation in

Chile, working closely with Carnegie Observatories and with seven Chilean universities who are providing support for the observations and infrastructure at Las Campanas.

SDSS-V, the survey’s fifth generation, is directed by Juna Kollmeier of the Carnegie Institution for Science; it will build off the earlier SDSS incarnations, but will also break new ground by pioneering all-sky observations and by monitoring over time the changes in a million objects.

“With observations in both hemispheres, no part of the sky will be hidden
from SDSS-V,” Kollmeier explains.

SDSS-V will consist of three projects, each mapping different components of
the universe: the Milky Way Mapper, the Black Hole Mapper and the Local Volume Mapper. The first mapper focuses on the formation of the Milky Way and its stars and planets.  The second will study the formation, growth, and ultimate sizes of the supermassive black holes that lurk at the centers of galaxies. The Local Volume Mapper will create the first complete spectroscopic maps of the most-iconic nearby galaxies.

Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and the Participating Institutions. SDSS acknowledges support and resources from the Center for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS web site is SDSS is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS Collaboration.

Juna Kollmeier
SDSS-V Survey Director
Carnegie Institution for Science
(626) 304-0220 

Gail Zasowski
SDSS-V Scientific Spokesperson
University of Utah
(801) 581-6901 

Jordan Raddick
SDSS-V Public Information Officer
Johns Hopkins University
(443) 570-7105 

Press Contact

James Devitt
James Devitt
(212) 998-6808