Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3935

By SpaceRef Editor
September 1, 2005
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3935

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT August 30, 2005 (DOY 242)


ACS/HRC 10460

ACS Two-Gyro mode coronography test

This test of the coronagraphic procedure will be run soon after entering the two gyro mode. It duplicates observations that have been taken in normal 3-gyro mode in proposals 9667 or 9668 and is simalar to the 2-Gyro test of Feb 2005. One orbit is used to measure the light which gets around the coronagraph in four filters. The second orbit is a test of the repeatibility and the third orbit replicates the others but at a different roll angle to permit a more detailed analysis of the coronagraphic performance. We include two pairs of HRC earth flats, immediately following the coronagraphic observations, taken with the coronagraph in place to measure the exact position of the spot, which sometimes moves several pixels. The coronagraphic observations include a USE OFFSET incorporating the information gained from the earth flats.

ACS/HRC 10461

ACS TGSMOV Moving Target Test

This proposal will test moving target observations in two gyro mode, by taking multiple images of Mars. ACS/HRC 10473

Rings of Uranus: Dynamics, Particle Properties and Shepherding Moons

We propose to image the rings and small inner satellites of Uranus using the High Resolution Channel of the ACS. The revolutionary capabilities of the ACS will allow us to address a variety of important questions relating to ring properties and ring-moon interactions. Observations at a range of wavelengths and phase angles will reveal the opposition surges of these rings and moons, providing information on color and surface structure. Measurements of the ring in front of the planet will provide complementary information on optical depth; any variations of optical depth with wavelength will reveal the rings’ poorly-constrained population of embedded dust. The rings of Uranus are closing rapidly as the planet approaches equinox in 2007, an event that takes place only every 42 years. Using this opportunity, our observations will be repeated at different solar and terrestrial tilt angles; this sequence of images will be particularly valuable for constraining the physical thickness and packing density of the rings. We will place particular emphasis on the rotational variations of the Epsilon Ring, whose radial width {and therefore its packing density} varies by a factor of five. In addition, deep exposures through the CLEAR filter will enable us to detect and recover 4-5 km moons in or near the ring system. Dynamicists invoke numerous such moons to “shepherd” the many sharp ring boundaries, so this will serve as a definitive test of the theory.


Kuiper Belt Binaries: Probes of Early Solar System Evolution

Binaries in the Kuiper Belt are a scientific windfall: in them we have relatively fragile test particles which can be used as tracers of the early dynamical evolution of the outer Solar System. We propose a Snapshot program using the ACS/HRC that has a potential discovery efficiency an order of magnitude higher than the HST observations that have already discovered the majority of known transneptunian binaries. By more than doubling the number of observed objects in dynamically hot and cold subpopulations we will be able to answer, with statistical significance, the question of whether these groups differ in the abundance of binaries as a result of their particular dynamical paths into the Kuiper Belt. Today’s Kuiper Belt bears the imprints of the final stages of giant-planet building and migration; binaries may offer some of the best preserved evidence of that long-ago era.

ACS/WFC 10235

Dark vs. luminous matter in the CenA/M83 galaxy complex

The distribution of dark vs. luminous matter on scales of 0.1-1.0 Mpc remains poorly understood. For a nearby group, the total mass can be determined from the radius of “the zero-velocity surface”, which separates the group from the general Hubble flow. This new method requires the measurement of accurate distances and radial velocities of galaxies around the group, but gives total mass estimates independent of assumptions about the state of relaxation or orbital characteristics. The mass pertains to the group at the full scale to which it is bound. Upon application in several nearest groups, the method yields mass estimates in agreement with the sum of the virial masses of subcomponents. However, the typical total M/L ratio for the nearby groups of ~30 Mo/Lo implies a local mean density of matter which is only 1/7 the canonical global density . The nearby complex of galaxies around Cen A and M83 resembles our Local Group by the dumb-bell concentration of objects around a pair of dominant galaxies. Accurate distances have been acquired recently for ~20 group members by the TRGB method using HST. We will measure TRGB distances to the 17 remaining galaxies in the region. These observations will constrain the dynamical state of the halo surrounding the nearest giant E-galaxy Cen A, providing a comparison with the halos of the nearest spirals.

ACS/WFC 10496

Decelerating and Dustfree: Efficient Dark Energy Studies with Supernovae and Clusters

We propose a novel HST approach to obtain a dramatically more useful “dust free” Type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia} dataset than available with the previous GOODS searches. Moreover, this approach provides a strikingly more efficient search-and-follow-up that is primarily pre- scheduled. The resulting dark energy measurements do not share the major systematic uncertainty at these redshifts, that of the extinction correction with a prior. By targeting massive galaxy clusters at z > 1 we obtain a five-times higher efficiency in detection of Type Ia supernovae in ellipticals, providing a well-understood host galaxy environment. These same deep cluster images then also yield fundamental calibrations required for future weak lensing and Sunyaev-Zel’dovich measurements of dark energy, as well as an entire program of cluster studies. The data will make possible a factor of two improvement on supernova constraints on dark energy time variation, and much larger improvement in systematic uncertainty. They will provide both a cluster dataset and a SN Ia dataset that will be a longstanding scientific resource.


Probing Evolution And Reionization Spectroscopically {PEARS}

While imaging with HST has gone deep enough to probe the highest redshifts, e.g. the GOODS survey and the Ultra Deep Field, spectroscopic identifications have not kept up. We propose an ACS grism survey to get slitless spectra of all sources in a wide survey region {8 ACS fields} up to z =27.0 magnitude, and an ultradeep field in the HUDF reaching sources up to z =28 magnitude. The PEARS survey will: {1} Find and spectrocopically confirm all galaxies between z=4-7. {2} Probe the reionization epoch by robustly determining the luminosity function of galaxies and low luminosity AGNs at z = 4 – 6. With known redshifts, we can get a local measure of star formation and ionization rate in case reionization is inhomogeneous. {3} Study galaxy formation and evolution by finding galaxies in a contiguous redshift range between 4 < z < 7, and black hole evolution through a census of low-luminosity AGNs. {4} Get a robust census of galaxies with old stellar populations at 1 < z < 2.5, invaluable for checking consistency with heirarchical models of galaxy formation. Fitting these galaxies' spectra will yield age and metallicity estimates. {5} Study star-formation and galaxy assembly at its peak at 1< z < 2 by identifying emission lines in star-forming galaxies, old populations showing the 4000A break, and any combination of the two. {6} Constrain faint white dwarfs in the Galactic halo and thus measure their contribution to the dark matter halo. {7} Derive spectro-photometric redshifts by using the grism spectra along with broadband data. This will be the deepest unbiased spectroscopy yet, and will enhance the value of the multiwavelength data in UDF and the GOODS fields to the astronomical community. To this end we will deliver reduced spectra to the HST archives.

FGS 10610

Astrometric Masses of Extrasolar Planets and Brown Dwarfs

We propose observations with HST/FGS to estimate the astrometric elements {perturbation orbit semi-major axis and inclination} of extra-solar planets orbiting six stars. These companions were originally detected by radial velocity techniques. We have demonstrated that FGS astrometry of even a short segment of reflex motion, when combined with extensive radial velocity information, can yield useful inclination information {McArthur et al. 2004}, allowing us to determine companion masses. Extrasolar planet masses assist in two ongoing research frontiers. First, they provide useful boundary conditions for models of planetary formation and evolution of planetary systems. Second, knowing that a star in fact has a plantary mass companion, increases the value of that system to future extrasolar planet observation missions such as SIM PlanetQuest, TPF, and GAIA.

NIC1/NIC2 10462

NICMOS SMOV – 2Gyro PSF-test

This proposal is mainly aimed at analysing the NICMOS PSF under 2-gyro operations. This will be mainly done via NIC1 observations, though back up NIC2 observations are also implemented. The stability of the PSF will be studied at two different time scales, with relatively long {~450sec} and short {5 sec} exposures. The selected object, NGC1850, is a star cluster which has been previously observed with NICMOS during SMOV3b. By observing a cluster we will be able to measure several stars at once and, a part from the PSF characterization, it will allow us to obtain the plate scale, field rotation, and field distortion.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8793

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 4

A new procedure proposed to alleviate the CR-persistence problem of NICMOS. Dark frames will be obtained immediately upon exiting the SAA contour 23, and every time a NICMOS exposure is scheduled within 50 minutes of coming out of the SAA. The darks will be obtained in parallel in all three NICMOS Cameras. The POST-SAA darks will be non-standard reference files available to users with a USEAFTER date/time mark. The keyword ‘USEAFTER=date/time’ will also be added to the header of each POST-SAA DARK frame. The keyword must be populated with the time, in addition to the date, because HST crosses the SAA ~8 times per day so each POST-SAA DARK will need to have the appropriate time specified, for users to identify the ones they need. Both the raw and processed images will be archived as POST-SAA DARKSs. Generally we expect that all NICMOS science/calibration observations started within 50 minutes of leaving an SAA will need such maps to remove the CR persistence from the science images. Each observation will need its own CRMAP, as different SAA passages leave different imprints on the NICMOS detectors.

WFPC2 10360


This calibration proposal is the Cycle 13 routine internal monitor for WFPC2, to be run weekly to monitor the health of the cameras. A variety of internal exposures are obtained in order to provide a monitor of the integrity of the CCD camera electronics in both bays {gain 7 and gain 15}, a test for quantum efficiency in the CCDs, and a monitor for possible buildup of contaminants on the CCD windows.

WFPC2 10534

Active Atmospheres on Uranus and Neptune

We propose Snapshot observations of Uranus and Neptune to monitor changes in their atmospheres on time scales of weeks, months, and years. Uranus is rapidly approaching equinox in 2007, with another 4 degrees of latitude becoming visible every year. Recent HST observations during this epoch {including 6818: Hammel, Lockwood, and Rages; 8680: Hammel, Rages, Lockwood, and Marley; 8634: Rages, Hammel, Lockwood, Marley, and McKay; and 10170: Rages, Hammel, Lockwood, and Marley} have revealed strongly wavelength-dependent latitudinal structure and the presence of numerous visible-wavelength cloud features in the northern hemisphere. Long-term ground-based observations {Lockwood and Thompson 1999} show seasonal brightness changes whose origins are not well understood. Recent near-IR images of Neptune obtained using adaptive optics on the Keck Telesccope together with images from our Cycle 9 Snapshot program {8634} show a general increase in activity at south temperate latitudes as well as the possible development of another Great Dark Spot. Further Snapshot observations of these two dynamic planets will elucidate the nature of long-term changes in their zonal atmospheric bands and clarify the processes of formation, evolution, and dissipation of discrete albedo features.


Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.)

HSTARS: 9929 – QF2SSDIF out of limit in SAA level 4 @ 243/07:31:57z

At 243/07:31:57 FGS Star Selector Difference Angle (QF2SSDIF) flagged out of limit with a value of 179,297, limit is 179.950. At the time vehicle was in gyro hold and in an SAA level 4.



                    SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL
FGS Gsacq              12            12
FGS Reacq              02            02
OBAD with Maneuver     28            28


Two Gyro Science (TGS)

The TGS on-orbit performance continues to be nominal.

146 science datasets have been received and processed through the standard STScI pipeline. Initial inspections reveal no anomalies with PSF, pointing, or coronagraphic acquisitions.

The On-Board Attitude Determination (OBAD) error correction pairs ranges:

#1 OBADs 0.12 – 2.01 degrees, average 1.00

#2 OBADs 1.2 – 42.7 arcseconds, average 10.81

Boresight jitter: 3.7 mas or below

SpaceRef staff editor.