Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4070

By SpaceRef Editor
March 15, 2006
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4070

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT March 14, 2006 (DOY 073)


ACS/HRC 10547

A SNAP Program to Obtain Complete Wavelength Coverage of Interstellar Extinction

We propose a SNAP program to obtain ACS/HRC spectra in the near-UV {PR200L} and near-IR {G800L} for a set of main sequence B stars with available IUE UV spectrophotometry, optical photometry, and 2MASS IR photometry. Together with these existing data, the new observations will provide complete photometric and spectrophotometric coverage from 1150 to 11000 A and enable us to produce complete extinction curves from the far-UV to the near-IR, with well- determined values of R{V}. The proposed set of 50 program sight lines includes the full range of interstellar extinction curve types and a wide range of color excesses. The new data will allow us to examine variability in the near-UV through near-IR spectral regions, including the UV-optical “knee” and the “Very Broad Structure.” We will examine the response of these features to different interstellar environments and their relationship to other curve features. These are largely unexplored aspects of extinction curves which will provide additional constraints on the properties of interstellar grains. The curves will be derived using stellar atmosphere models to represent the intrinsic spectral energy distributions of the program stars, eliminating the need to observe unreddened “standard stars.” This approach virtually eliminates “mismatch error”, allowing us to derive extinction curves with much higher precision than previously possible. In addition, the new spectra will provide higher S/N data for the peak of the 2175 A bump than previously available.

ACS/WFC 10494

Imaging the mass structure of distant lens galaxies

The surface brightness distribution of extended gravitationally lensed arcs and Einstein rings contains super-resolved information about the lensed object, and, more excitingly, about the smooth and clumpy mass distribution of the lens galaxies. The source and lens information can non-parametrically be separated, resulting in a direct “gravitational-mass image” of the inner mass-distribution of cosmologically-distant galaxies {Koopmans 2005}. With this goal in mind, we propose deep HST ACS-F555W/F814W and NICMOS-F160W imaging of 15 gravitational-lens systems with spatially resolved lensed sources, selected from the 17 new lens systems discovered by the Sloan Lens ACS Survey {Bolton et al. 2004}. Each system has been selected from the SDSS and confirmed in a time-efficient HST-ACS snapshot program {cycle-13}; they show highly-magnified arcs or Einstein rings, lensed by a massive early-type lens galaxy. High- fidelity multi-color HST images are required {not delivered by the 420-sec snapshot images} to isolate these lensed images {properly cleaned, dithered and extinction-corrected} from the lens galaxy surface brightness distribution, and apply our “gravitational-mass imaging” technique. The sample of galaxy mass distributions – determined through this method from the arcs and Einstein ring HST images – will be studied to: {i} measure the smooth mass distribution of the lens galaxies {Dark and luminous mass are separated using the HST images and the stellar M/L values derived from a joint stellar-dynamical analysis of each system}; {ii} quantify statistically and individually the incidence of mass-substructure {with or without obvious luminous counter- parts such as dwarf galaxies}. Since dark-matter substructure should be considerably more prevalent at higher redshift, both results provide a direct test of this prediction of the CDM hierarchical structure-formation model.

ACS/WFC 10775

An ACS Survey of Galactic Globular Clusters

We propose to conduct an ACS/WFC imaging survey of Galactic globular clusters. We will construct the most extensive and deepest set of photometry and astrometry to-date for these systems reaching a main sequence mass of ~0.2 solar mass with S/N >= 10. We will combine these data with archival WFPC2 and STIS images to determine proper motions for the stars in our fields. The resultant cleaned cluster CMDs will allow us to study a variety of scientific questions. These include [but are not limited to] 1} the determination of cluster ages and distances 2} the construction of main sequence mass functions and the issue of mass segregation 3} the internal motions and dynamical evolution of globular clusters, and 4} absolute cluster motions, orbits, and the Milky Way gravitational potential. We anticipate that the unique resource provided by the proposed treasury archive will play a central role in the field of globular cluster studies for decades, with a stature comparable to that of the Hubble Deep Field for high redshift studies.

ACS/WFC 10781

Observations of the active Centaur {60558} 2000 EC98

On the next-to-last day of 2005, an amazing discovery was made. A modest member of the population of minor planets was suddenly found to be outbursting. The object, originally classified as an asteroidal body with no visible sign of coma or non-rotational photometric variations, had become a comet. {60558} 2000 EC98 is a Centaur, a class of objects that have long been seen as the precursors to many of the comets in our Solar System. This previously quiescent, fairly well-studied body has now afforded the astronomical community the opportunity to observe the changes that the earliest onset of cometary activity may bring to a planetary surface. It also allows us to test theories as to which physical characteristics may herald the potential for future activity and the existence of primordial substances, like volatiles, within the outer Solar System’s asteroidal populations. We are requesting Director’s Discretionary Time on the Hubble Space Telescope to observe this rare event with high spatial resolution, while the Centaur is still active, so that we may characterize the changes taking place on the nucleus, the robustness of the activity, and the nature of the dust and gas in the coma. Unlike the surfaces of Jupiter-Family Comets, which have been processed by long periods of activity, and unlike the few other active Centaurs, which were discovered after the onset of their activity, this would be a first and rare opportunity to study changes on a cometary surface soon after it evolved from a likely long period of dormancy into strong outburst.

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/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 10744

WFPC2 Cycle 14 Decontaminations and Associated Observations

This proposal is for the WFPC2 decons. Also included are instrument monitors tied to decons: photometric stability check, focus monitor, pre- and post-decon internals {bias, intflats, kspots, & darks}, UV throughput check, VISFLAT sweep, and internal UV flat check.


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

HSTARS: (None)



                           SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                08                     08
FGS REacq                06                     06
OBAD with Maneuver   24                     24


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