August 21, 2009

Servicing Mission Observatory Verification (SMOV) Update

Hubble is getting closer to completing the calibrations for most of its instruments, and each day it draws nearer to becoming a fully functioning observatory again. In fact, in the upcoming weeks, Hubble will concentrate on making high-priority science observations and then finish the remaining instrument calibrations by early fall.

The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) still has a few checkouts to complete, but it is now taking science images on a regular basis.

The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) is also nearing the end of its calibration activities, which should be mostly finished by next week. Meanwhile, STIS is completing its work in support of Hubble's Early Release Observations (EROs), which will be shared with the public in September.

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) is in the final phases of its calibrations for both its near-ultraviolet and far-ultraviolet channels. The channels, which study different wavelengths of ultraviolet light, must be calibrated separately. For example, engineers and scientists are continuing to test the focus for the far-ultraviolet channel, while the near-ultraviolet channel's focus appears to be good.

The cooling system for the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) has cooled the instrument down to operational levels. Engineers plan to turn on its detectors later this week. After they determine that the temperature is stable and cold enough for science observations, engineers and scientists will begin the several-week calibration process for NICMOS.


On The Net: