Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4165

By SpaceRef Editor
July 28, 2006
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4165
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HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT # 4165

PERIOD COVERED: UT July 27, 2006 (DOY 208)

OBSERVATIONS SCHEDULED

ACS/HRC 10860

The largest Kuiper belt object

The past year has seen an explosion in the discoveries of Pluto-sized objects in the Kuiper belt. With the discoveries of the methane-covered 2003 UB313 and 2005 FY9, the multiple satellite system of 2003 EL61, and the Pluto-Charon analog system of Orcus and its satellite, it is finally apparent that Pluto is not a unique oddball at the edge of the solar system, but rather one of a family of similarly large objects in the Kuiper belt and beyond. HST observations over the past decade have been critical for understanding the interior, surface, and atmosphere of Pluto and Charon. We propose here a comprehensive series of observations designed to similarly expand our knowledge of these recently discovered Pluto-sized and near-Pluto-sized Kuiper belt objects. These observations will measure objects’ sizes and densities, explore the outcome of collisions in the outer solar system, and allow the first ever look at the interior structure of a Kuiper belt object. Our wide field survey that discovered all of these objects is nearly finished, so after five years of continuous searching we are finally almost complete in our tally of these near-Pluto-sized objects. This large HST request is the culmination of this half-decade search for new planetary-sized objects. As has been demonstrated repeatedly by the approximately 100 previous orbits devoted to the study of Pluto, only HST has the resolution and sensitivity for detailed study of these distant objects. With these new Pluto-sized objects only now being discovered we have a limited window left to still use HST for these critical observations.

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/NIC2 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.

NIC1 10879

A search for planetary-mass companions to the nearest L dwarfs – completing the survey

We propose to extend the most sensitive survey yet undertaken for very low-mass companions to ultracool dwarfs. We will use NICMOS to complete imaging of an all-sky sample of 87 L dwarfs in 80 systems within 20 parsecs of the Sun. The combination of infrared imaging and proximity allows us to search for companions with mass ratios q>0.25 at separations exceeding ~3 AU, while probing companions with q>0.5 at ~1.5 AU separation. This resolution is crucial, since no ultracool binaries are known in the field with separations exceeding 15 AU. Fifty L dwarfs from the 20-parsec sample have high- resolution imaging, primarily through our Cycle 13 HST proposal which identified six new binaries, including an L/T system. Here, we propose to target the remaining 30 dwarfs

NIC1 10889

The Nature of the Halos and Thick Disks of Spiral Galaxies

We propose to resolve the extra-planar stellar populations of the thick disks and halos of seven nearby, massive, edge-on galaxies using ACS, NICMOS, and WFPC2 in parallel. These observations will provide accurate star counts and color-magnitude diagrams 1.5 magnitudes below the tip of the Red Giant Branch sampled along the two principal axes and one intermediate axis of each galaxy. We will measure the metallicity distribution functions and stellar density profiles from star counts down to very low average surface brightnesses, equivalent to ~32 V-mag per square arcsec. These observations will provide the definitive HST study of extra-planar stellar populations of spiral galaxies. Our targets cover a range in galaxy mass, luminosity, and morphology and as function of these galaxy properties we will provide: – The first systematic study of the radial and isophotal shapes of the diffuse stellar halos of spiral galaxies – The most detailed comparative study to date of thick disk morphologies and stellar populations – A comprehensive analysis of halo and thick disk metallicity distributions as a function of galaxy type and position within the galaxy. – A sensitive search for tidal streams – The first opportunity to directly relate globular cluster systems to their field stellar population We will use these fossil records of the galaxy assembly process preserved in the old stellar populations to test halo and thick disk formation models within the hierarchical galaxy formation scheme. We will test LambdaCDM predictions on sub-galactic scales, where it is difficult to test using CMB and galaxy redshift surveys, and where it faces its most serious difficulties.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8794

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 5

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.

NIC2 10527

Imaging Scattered Light from Debris Disks Discovered by the Spitzer Space Telescope Around 20 Sun-like Stars

We propose to use the high contrast capability of the NICMOS coronagraph to image a sample of newly discovered circumstellar disks associated with sun-like stars. These systems were identified by their strong thermal infrared emission with the Spitzer Space Telescope as part of the Spitzer Legacy Science program titled, “The Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems {FEPS}.” Modelling of the thermal excess emission in the form of spectral energy distributions alone cannot distinguish between narrowly confined high opacity disks and broadly distributed, low opacity disks. However, our proposed NICMOS observations can, by imaging the light scattered from this material. Even non- detections will place severe constraints on the disk geometry, ruling out models with high optical depth. Unlike previous disk imaging programs, our program contains a well defined sample of solar mass stars covering a range of ages from ~10Myrs to a few Gyrs, allowing us to study the evolution of disks from primordial to debris for the first time. These results will greatly improve our understanding of debris disks around Sun-like stars at stellar ages nearly 10x older than any previous investigation. Thus we will have fit a crucial piece into the puzzle concerning the formation and evolution of our own solar system.

FLIGHT OPERATIONS SUMMARY:

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

HSTARS: (None)

COMPLETED OPS REQUEST:

#17864-0 Execute ROP NS-11 (Reset NICMOS Error Counter) @208/1337z

COMPLETED OPS NOTES: (None)

                        SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL   
FGS GSacq                    06           06 
FGS REacq                    10           10                     
OBAD with Maneuver       30           30 

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS: (None)

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