Hubble Status Report - November 2006
10 November 2006 09:30Mission Status
The data from the 9 September 2006 visit of the HST Optical Monitoring Program have been analyzed. Results of phase retrieval on stellar targets in ACS/HRC and WFPC2/PC in parallel give good agreement with the mean of HRC measurements over the orbit.
HRC values indicated +0.6 μm equivalent secondary mirror displacement, while the PC mean was approximately -0.6 μm. For reference, 1 μm of secondary mirror displacement corresponds to 6 nm of rms wavefront error, or about 1/100 of a wave in the V-band. This visit, along with the previous, illustrate that the 31 July 2006 secondary mirror adjustment was successful in restoring sharp focus, the mean of the last two HRC visits being 0.02 μm.
An announcement, as part of a press conference, on whether to fully proceed with the SM4 mission is expected for early November, following a briefing to the NASA Administrator on 27 October 2006. Barring new problems with the Shuttle it is expected that the NASA Administrator will authorize the SM4 mission, to occur no earlier than January 2008.
The ACS suspended operations at the end of September and moved into safe configuration. This situation was due to an off-nominal voltage reading in the telemetry from the electronics box for the High Resolution Channel (HRC) CCD detector. Observations were rescheduled to use in the meantime WFPC2 and NICMOS. By early October, ACS resumed operations using the Wide Field Camera while the HRC and the SBC, requiring some modifications in their commanding, will be brought back to normal operations as soon as possible. To maintain a contingency reserve, activated only in case of a serious anomaly affecting the ACS, a call for backup science proposals has been issued that make use of the Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS), the Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrograph (NICMOS) and the Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2).
A team of US and European astronomers analyzing two of the deepest views of the cosmos made with the Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered a gold mine of galaxies, more than 500 that existed less than a billion years after the Big Bang. This sample represents the most comprehensive compilation of galaxies in the early universe, researchers said. The discovery is scientifically invaluable for understanding the origin of galaxies, considering that just a decade ago early galaxy formation was largely uncharted territory. Astronomers had not seen even one galaxy that existed when the universe was a billion years old, so finding 500 in a Hubble survey is a significant leap forward for cosmologists.
[ This report was prepared on 13 October 2006, and presented to SPC on 7-8 November 2006 ]