I see committed engineers and scientists struggling to work at the edge of the impossible. I see a community willing to take risks on behalf of science, so we can extend the scientific frontiers and do things no one has done before. I see that building a state-of-the-art machine for science is in the end an inherently complex and tremendously imperfect human endeavor. In the end, someone has to provide “the next Hubble” to the next generation. If not us, then who?
Ten years ago, the 2000 decadal survey gave the Webb its top priority, and Astro 2010 did not re-rank it. Correspondingly, the Astro 2010 results amply confirm that Webb’s unique capabilities are essential to the freshly framed scientific agenda. Throughout the committee and panel reports, as well as the working documents, the Webb being built today is allied and synergistic with the missions that will be developed tomorrow.
(Jason Kalirai, Peter Stockman, and Massimo Stiavelli)
Anticipating that a variety of important Webb science programs will rely on high-quality flux calibrations, Institute staff are developing a set of stellar spectral energy distributions to facilitate the transfer of the flux calibration to Webb science targets.
(Ralph Bohlin, Karl Gordon, and Jason Kalirai)
As we plan operations for the James Webb Space Telescope, we are drawing on the Hubble experience to ensure the efficient selection of guide stars to stabilize Webb’s pointing.
The Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys continues to perform well, but the Solar Blind Channel is suspended until flight software is updated.
(Linda Smith and David Golimowski)
Cosmic rays take a toll on charge-coupled-device detectors—displacing photoelectrons and even silicon atoms, creating permanent defects in the silicon lattice. Here we report the progress made in correcting charge-transfer inefficiency in the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys.
Replacement electronics have brought the Wide Field Channel back to life as an even more sensitive instrument for detecting faint light from the cosmos. However, the new electronics also contribute a low-level noise that appears as a fluctuating horizontal striping across all post-SM4 Wide Field Channel images. Find out how to mitigate this issue.
The STIS CCD detector shows the effects of accumulated radiation damage, as its charge transfer efficiency continues to degrade. A software update to protect the STIS MAMA detectors in the event of an electronic upset appears to be working properly, and the dark rate continues to decline.
The WFC3 continues to function well. It has nearly completed its Cycle 17 science and calibration programs, and is now well into Cycle 18. Read the highlights some of the accomplishments and future directions of the WFC3 calibration program, which has evolved through three stages.
Read all about the recently developed exposure time calculator—pyetc, a web-based application that calculates either the exposure time needed to achieve a certain signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), or the SNR that would be achieved by a certain exposure time.
MAST is the ever-growing NASA repository for ultraviolet and optical observations from both active and legacy missions. MAST supports the astronomical community by maintaining public-access interfaces to its collections, and providing expert user support and access calibration and analysis software.
(Alberto Conti, for the MAST Team)
On May 15, 2010, a long-anticipated cooperative agreement was issued to create a new research facility for astronomy: the Virtual Astronomical Observatory, which was based on the foundation laid by the earlier National Virtual Observatory. VAO is to promote scientific discovery by making archival research much more efficient, effective, and productive.
The IPL hopes to spark interdisciplinary discussions in the astrobiology community at STScI, JHU, APL and GSFC, and to facilitate projects regarding the origin and evolution of life, and the search for life in the universe.
(Dániel Apai and Jocelyn DiRuggiero)
The program endeavors to enhance the diversity of our science community, and provide mentoring to junior scientists, particularly women and members of under-represented groups. This year's Caroline Herschel visitors will be Annette Ferguson, Priyamvada Natarajan, and Sandra Faber. (Rachel Somerville)
For a period of ten weeks this past summer, the Institute welcomed a group of some of the brightest students of astronomy and physics to work on research, technology, and public outreach projects with members of the Institute staff.
The goal of the YAE program is to provide fun-filled and engaging ways to nurture budding interest in astronomy and engineering, and to endow our local community’s youth with a heightened awareness of their place in the universe. Read about the past year's fun activities!
The Cosmic Assembly Near-IR Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey is merger of two originally separate Multi-Cycle Treasury proposals. It offers a three-tiered strategy to efficiently sample extragalactic objects ranging from bright and rare to faint and common, and features an extensive search for high-redshift Type Ia SNe, as well ultraviolet exposures in the GOODS northern field.
(Harry Ferguson and Sandy Faber, for the CANDELS team)
The Cluster Lensing and Supernova Survey with Hubble uses panchromatic imaging from the new WFC3 and the restored ACS. The goal is to harness the power of strong gravitational lensing to test models of the formation of cosmic structure with unprecedented precision.
Our quest to understand the universe is anchored in our knowledge of the Local Group of galaxies. To this purpose, the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury hopes to establish a new foundation for interpreting observations of stellar populations across the universe and back through cosmic time.
More than 60 astronomers attended the Institute's workshop "IFUs in the Era of JWST, which offered discussions of IFS techniques, instrument development, 3D data viewing and analysis, and new scientific results.
(Tracy Beck and Linda Smith)
Rarely has a meeting been more evocatively situated than the recent “Science with the Hubble Space Telescope III. Two Decades and Counting,” which was held in Venice in October 2010. Venice is famous for its classic combination of arts and science, and Hubble is established as an unsurpassed source of science and beauty.
(Brad Whitmore and Antonella Nota)
Following decisions made by both ESA and ESO during the last few years, the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility closed and ceased operations on 31 December 2010. In this article, you can find out where the activities formerly covered by the ST-ECF have been transferred.
Each one of us has an “astronomical parent”—that person who took us under their wing and taught us how to be an astronomer, how to do research, how to take the spark of an early idea and transform it into new knowledge. I was very fortunate to have two astronomical parents, Margaret Geller and John Huchra.
Edward Weiler, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, visited the Institute last summer. Ed spent nearly 20 years (1979–1998) at NASA headquarters as Program Scientist for Space Telescope. He was instrumental in ensuring the long-term operations of Hubble, the variety of science done with the telescope, and the importance of outreach efforts.
The Kuiper belt, a region of small, icy bodies thought to be left over from the formation of the solar system, extends from the orbit of Neptune to more than 5 trillion miles from the Sun. It contains numerous bodies called Kuiper belt objects, the most famous being Pluto and its moons.
Einstein's original formulation of General Relativity did not permit a static (neither expanding nor contracting) universe. However, he found that the addition of a constant term to his equations produced one. This "cosmological constant" had the effect of a repulsive force that kept the universe from collapsing under its own weight.