Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4961

By SpaceRef Editor
October 30, 2009
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4961


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am October 28 – 5am October 29, 2009 (DOY 301/09:00z-302/09:00z)


ACS/WFC3 11879

CCD Daily Monitor (Part 1)

This program comprises basic tests for measuring the read noise and dark current of the ACS WFC and for tracking the growth of hot pixels. The recorded frames are used to create bias and dark reference images for science data reduction and calibration. This program will be executed four days per week (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun) for the duration of Cycle 17. To facilitate scheduling, this program is split into three proposals. This proposal covers 352 orbits (22 weeks) from 31 August 2009 to 31 January 2010.

ACS/WFC3 11882

CCD Hot Pixel Annealing

All the data for this program is acquired using internal targets (lamps) only, so all of the exposures should be taken during Earth occultation time (but not during SAA passages). This program emulates the ACS pre-flight ground calibration and post launch SMOV testing (program 8948), so that results from each epoch can be directly compared. Extended Pixel Edge Response (EPER) and First Pixel Response (FPR) data will be obtained over a range of signal levels for the Wide Field Channel (WFC). The High Resolution Channel (HRC) visits have been removed since it could not be repaired during SM4.

COS/FUV 11524


COS G130M and G160M 20, 000 resolution observations will be obtained for 10 AGNs situated beyond Milky Way high velocity clouds. For all objects good O VI line profile observations exist from FUSE and high velocity O VI is detected. The COS observations will be used to obtain high quality absorption line profiles (S/N ~ 30 to 40) for C IV, Si IV and N V in the low and high velocity gas toward each AGN. The high ionization profiles of O VI (from FUSE), N V, C IV, and Si IV will be compared to low ionization profiles (O I, S II, Si II, Fe II, etc.) in order to evaluate the physical conditions and origins of the highly ionized gas in and near the Milky Way at low and high velocity. The HVCs include Complex C (four lines of sight), Complex A, WD, WB, and several negative velocity O VI HVCs. Other studies to be undertaken with this data set include studies of the physical conditions and abundances in the cool and warm HVC gas and studies of the physical conditions in low redshift IGM systems detected along the 10 lines of sight.

COS/FUV 11526

COS-GTO: Sampling the Local ISM with Hot White Dwarfs

We shall use hot white dwarf stars located within 150pc of the Sun to probe the absorption properties of the interstellar gas associated with the local cavity. There is still much debate concerning the ionization state of the local gas, since previously detected highly ionized lines (such as CIV and SiIV) could be associated with the circumstellar environments of hot white dwarfs. By using a priori knowledge of the velocity structure of the interstellar sight-lines to these targets (gained from high spectral resolution ground-based observations) in conjunction with the UV absorption data gained with HST-COS, we shall be able to better determine both the physical and chemical state of the numerous diffuse interstellar clouds present within the local cavity.

COS/FUV 11541


COS G130M and G160M 20, 000 resolution observations will be obtained for 17 QSOs to study cool, warm and hot gas in the cosmic web and in galaxy halos. 5 QSOs with z from 0.177 to 0.574 and sum z = 1.68 will be observed with S/N = 40-50 per resolution element. 12 QSOs with z = 0.286 to 0.669 and sum z = 5.57 will be observed with S/N = 30-40. The observations will allow a wide range of IGM studies including determining the frequency of occurrence of the different types of absorption systems detected, along with studies of the physical conditions and elemental abundances in the different systems. Special emphasis will be given to a study of the properties of highly ionized IGM as traced by O VI, O V, O IV, N V, and C IV. The high S/N of the observations will allow a search for broad Lyman alpha absorption and weak metal line absorption that can be crucial for the evaluation of physical conditions and elemental abundances. Supporting ground based observations will allow studies of the association of the absorbers with galaxy structures along the 17 lines of sight. The overall goal of the program will be to obtain the information that will allow an assessment of the baryonic content of the IGM as revealed by UV and EUV absorption lines seen in the spectra of QSOs.

NIC2/WFC3/IR 11548

Infrared Imaging of Protostars in the Orion A Cloud: The Role of Environment in Star Formation

We propose NICMOS and WFC3/IR observations of a sample of 252 protostars identified in the Orion A cloud with the Spitzer Space Telescope. These observations will image the scattered light escaping the protostellar envelopes, providing information on the shapes of outflow cavities, the inclinations of the protostars, and the overall morphologies of the envelopes. In addition, we ask for Spitzer time to obtain 55-95 micron spectra of 75 of the protostars. Combining these new data with existing 3.6 to 70 micron photometry and forthcoming 5-40 micron spectra measured with the Spitzer Space Telescope, we will determine the physical properties of the protostars such as envelope density, luminosity, infall rate, and outflow cavity opening angle. By examining how these properties vary with stellar density (i.e. clusters vs. groups vs. isolation) and the properties of the surrounding molecular cloud; we can directly measure how the surrounding environment influences protostellar evolution, and consequently, the formation of stars and planetary systems. Ultimately, this data will guide the development of a theory of protostellar evolution.

STIS/CCD 11844

CCD Dark Monitor Part 1

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the darks for the STIS CCD.

STIS/CCD 11846

CCD Bias Monitor-Part 1

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the bias in the 1×1, 1×2, 2×1, and 2×2 bin settings at gain=1, and 1×1 at gain = 4, to build up high-S/N superbiases and track the evolution of hot columns.

WFC3/UVIS 11714

Snapshot Survey for Planetary Nebulae in Local Group Globular Clusters

Planetary nebulae (PNe) in globular clusters (GCs) raise a number of interesting issues related to stellar and galactic evolution. The number of PNe known in Milky Way GCs, four, is surprisingly low if one assumes that all stars pass through a PN stage. However, it is likely that the remnants of stars now evolving in galactic GCs leave the AGB so slowly that any ejected nebula dissipates long before the star becomes hot enough to ionize it. Thus there should not be ANY PNe in Milky Way GCs–but there are four! It has been suggested that these PNe are the result of mergers of binary stars within GCs, i.e., that they are descendants of blue stragglers. The frequency of occurrence of PNe in external galaxies poses more questions, because it shows a range of almost an order of magnitude.

I propose a SNAPshot survey aimed at discovering PNe in the GC systems of Local Group galaxies outside the Milky Way. These clusters, some of which may be much younger than their counterparts in our galaxy, might contain many more PNe than those of our own galaxy. I will use the standard technique of emission-line and continuum imaging, which easily discloses PNe. This proposal continues a WFPC2 program started in Cycle 16, but with the more powerful WFC3. As a by-product, the survey will also produce color-magnitude diagrams for numerous clusters for the first time, reaching down to the horizontal branch.

WFC3/UVIS 11905

WFC3 UVIS CCD Daily Monitor

The behavior of the WFC3 UVIS CCD will be monitored daily with a set of full-frame, four-amp bias and dark frames. A smaller set of 2Kx4K subarray biases are acquired at less frequent intervals throughout the cycle to support subarray science observations. The internals from this proposal, along with those from the anneal procedure (Proposal 11909), will be used to generate the necessary superbias and superdark reference files for the calibration pipeline (CDBS).

WFC3/UVIS 11908

Cycle 17: UVIS Bowtie Monitor

Ground testing revealed an intermittent hysteresis type effect in the UVIS detector (both CCDs) at the level of ~1%, lasting hours to days. Initially found via an unexpected bowtie-shaped feature in flatfield ratios, subsequent lab tests on similar e2v devices have since shown that it is also present as simply an overall offset across the entire CCD, i.e., a QE offset without any discernable pattern. These lab tests have further revealed that overexposing the detector to count levels several times full well fills the traps and effectively neutralizes the bowtie. Each visit in this proposal acquires a set of three 3×3 binned internal flatfields: the first unsaturated image will be used to detect any bowtie, the second, highly exposed image will neutralize the bowtie if it is present, and the final image will allow for verification that the bowtie is gone.

WFC3/UVIS/IR 11644

A Dynamical-Compositional Survey of the Kuiper Belt: A New Window Into the Formation of the Outer Solar System

The eight planets overwhelmingly dominate the solar system by mass, but their small numbers, coupled with their stochastic pasts, make it impossible to construct a unique formation history from the dynamical or compositional characteristics of them alone. In contrast, the huge numbers of small bodies scattered throughout and even beyond the planets, while insignificant by mass, provide an almost unlimited number of probes of the statistical conditions, history, and interactions in the solar system. To date, attempts to understand the formation and evolution of the Kuiper Belt have largely been dynamical simulations where a hypothesized starting condition is evolved under the gravitational influence of the early giant planets and an attempt is made to reproduce the current observed populations. With little compositional information known for the real Kuiper Belt, the test particles in the simulation are free to have any formation location and history as long as they end at the correct point. Allowing compositional information to guide and constrain the formation, thermal, and collisional histories of these objects would add an entire new dimension to our understanding of the evolution of the outer solar system. While ground based compositional studies have hit their flux limits already with only a few objects sampled, we propose to exploit the new capabilities of WFC3 to perform the first ever large-scale dynamical-compositional study of Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and their progeny to study the chemical, dynamical, and collisional history of the region of the giant planets. The sensitivity of the WFC3 observations will allow us to go up to two magnitudes deeper than our ground based studies, allowing us the capability of optimally selecting a target list for a large survey rather than simply taking the few objects that can be measured, as we have had to do to date. We have carefully constructed a sample of 120 objects which provides both overall breadth, for a general understanding of these objects, plus a large enough number of objects in the individual dynamical subclass to allow detailed comparison between and within these groups. These objects will likely define the core Kuiper Belt compositional sample for years to come. While we have many specific results anticipated to come from this survey, as with any project where the field is rich, our current knowledge level is low, and a new instrument suddenly appears which can exploit vastly larger segments of the population, the potential for discovery — both anticipated and not — is extraordinary.


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


12057 – REAcq(2,1,1) at 301/09:03:25z and 301/10:39:19z failed to RGA Hold due to a search radius limit exceeded on FGS-2.

Observations affected: COS 46-53, Proposal ID# 11541.



FGS GSAcq 9 9
FGS REAcq 7 5
OBAD with Maneuver 7 7


SpaceRef staff editor.