Hubble Status Report - November 2004
An additional 45 proposals have been called in to maintain the high observing efficiency of the telescope. These proposals had already been rank-ordered by the original Cycle 13 Time Allocation Committee. A number of already approved programs that originally used STIS are in the process of being converted to use other instrument modes, most notably the Solar-Blind Channel (SBC) of the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).
In the event that HST has to be operated with only two gyros before a refurbishment can take place, preparations and development for the Two-Gyro Science Mode continue. Detailed simulations show that the impact on image quality from jitter is substantially less than originally assumed, so that a "voluntary" entry into Two-Gyro Mode is now being discussed in order to preserve the lifetime of the currently operating four gyros. On-orbit tests are planned for November of this year.
The Cycle 14 Call for Proposals will be issued in mid-October, with a deadline for the submission of Phase I information by late January 2005. This call includes the policy modifications to accommodate operation in Two-Gyro Mode.
On 9 August 2004, the NASA Administrator gave the go-ahead for proceeding with a robotic servicing mission for HST. This robotic servicing mission is planned to include: installing de-orbit hardware, extending HST observing life (batteries and gyros), and installing two new science instruments. These developments now point to a servicing mission to HST in late 2007 or early 2008.
New versions of the data reduction and archive retrieval software were installed in September. This installation brings many system improvements and fixes, and also provides significant new functionality by the first pre-archive and retrieval application of MultiDrizzle to ACS data sets. MultiDrizzle allows the combination of associated ACS images into one image, while simultaneously removing cosmic ray hits.
On 23 September 2004, scientists presented recent results based on the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) to the astronomical community and the media. Detailed analyses of this deepest optical view of the universe by several expert teams have at last identified what may turn out to be some of the earliest star-forming galaxies. Astronomers are now debating whether the hottest stars in these early galaxies may have provided enough radiation to "lift a curtain" of cold, primordial hydrogen that cooled after the big bang. This is a problem that has perplexed astronomers over the past decade, and the Hubble Space Telescope has at last glimpsed what could be the ihend of the opening actli of galaxy formation. These faint sources illustrate how astronomers can begin to explore when the first galaxies formed and what their properties might be. But even though HST has looked 95 percent of the way back to the beginning of time, astronomers agree that's not far enough.