HST New and Important Features

What's New for Cycle 30

The following are the important features for proposers to consider this Cycle:

Policy

  • Since Cycle 27, proposals must be submitted and will be reviewed in an anonymous format. See HST Anonymous Proposal Reviews for more information on the review process. Guidelines are provided on how to anonymize a proposal.
  • The PDF attachment no longer has a page limit for the scientific justification, though a total page limit for different proposal types remains. See Guidelines and Checklist for Phase I Proposal Preparation for further details.
  • Proposers must also submit a brief "Team Expertise and Background" section, incorporated in the Astronomer's Proposal Tool. This section will be available to the review panel after the final ranked list is complete, at which point, the review panel may disqualify proposals that are not sufficiently poised to carry out the proposed work. See also Anonymous Proposal Reviews.
  • The term "exclusive access period" is used throughout this Call, as a replacement for "proprietary period." The connotations on data rights, however, remain much the same.
  • Phase I proposals must include in their Description of Observations section bright object protection information sufficient to establish the safety of any proposed measurements which utilize instruments subject to health and safety concerns. Programs that do not contain this information may be subject to cancellation.
  • Phase I proposals that are awarded observing time will be held to a strict deadline for subsequent Phase II and budget submissions.  Programs that submit Phase II proposals that are either late or insufficient for long-range planning will be subject to cancellation.  Programs that submit late budgets may not receive funding.
  • Accepted AR Proposals by default will be awarded financial support within 30 days of receipt of the grant PI Notification Letters (See HST Grant Funding and Budget Submissions) unless the program has explicitly asked for a delay in funding in the Analysis Plan and the request is approved by the STScI Director.
  • Phase I proposals must itemize and briefly justify the special requirements that will be implemented in Phase II, using the Phase I section designated for this purpose. This includes the potential for orientation constraints. The detailed orientations do not need to be specified until Phase II. All visit-level special requirements and exposure-level special requirements must be justified (see HST Preparation of the PDF Attachment).
  • The orbit limit for mid-cycle proposals in Cycle 30 is 15 orbits. This applies to both the September 30, 2022 and the January 31, 2023 deadlines.
  • Observers are strongly encouraged to craft their programs in blocks of 6 consecutive orbits or less. If your science requires more than 6 consecutive orbits scheduled continuously, the program will proceed under a shared risk between STScI and the observer. Specifically, if the planning & scheduling team can reasonably schedule your program in this manner, it will be attempted, but if there is a problem, any subsequent attempt must be done in a series of 6 orbits or less. In the Description of Observations section of your Phase I proposal, you must justify the use of a longer series of consecutive orbits, and explain the impact to your science goals if your observations cannot be scheduled in that manner, either on the 1st attempt or in the event of failure.
  • We encourage accepted programs to minimize scheduling constraints. STScI recognizes that some of the scheduling restrictions for successful programs may not be apparent to an observer using APT. If the final constraints on your program result in only one scheduling opportunity per year (i.e., falling in only one of the weekly HST schedules), that program will proceed under a shared risk between STScI and the observer. Specifically, if the observations fail, a request to repeat the observations might not be granted unless the program constraints are relaxed.
  • Due to current observatory operational constraints, Venus is not allowed as a target for Director's Discretionary Proposals for Cycle 30. See HST Observation Types and Special Requirements for more information.
  • ToOs with activation times less than 2 days are called ultra-disruptive ToOs and will not be allocated in Cycle 30.
  • Long-term GO programs may only include non-disruptive ToOs for execution in future cycles.

Opportunities

  • HST UV Legacy DD program: The STScI Director devoted 600-1000 orbits of Director's Discretionary time in Cycles 27-29 to a Legacy program that takes advantage of Hubble's unique UV capabilities to probe star formation processes and related stellar astrophysics. The Hubble UV Legacy Library of Young Stars as Essential Standards (ULLYSES) serves as a UV spectroscopic reference sample of young high and low-mass stars, uniformly sampling fundamental astrophysical parameter-space for each class of star. STScI constituted an implementation team to work with the community to define target lists and detailed observing modes. No observations have exclusive access periods, and all are immediately available to the community. Further details are provided on the working group site. As of Cycle 30, the majority of ULLYSES observations are complete and multiple data releases have been announced. The community is encouraged to consider submitting Cycle 30 proposals to supplement and complement the conceptual program. This includes Archival proposals to analyze all or a subset of the full ULLYSES datasets.
  • Joint HST-TESS proposals: proposers may request high-cadence photometric monitoring by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) for individual targets in their HST program. There is no guarantee that the TESS data will be obtained simultaneously with the HST observations. See Joint Proposals for further information.
  • STScI will continue the HST-TESS Exoplanet Initiative, designed to provide the community with an opportunity to submit long-term (multi-cycle) Treasury programs that capitalize on the exciting small exoplanet discoveries generated by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. HST-TESS Exoplanet Initiative proposals should be identified as such in the proposal abstract. See Special Initiatives for further information.
  • STScI will discontinue the JWST Preparatory Science Initiative in Cycle 30, due to the successful launch of JWST.
  • TESS data are publicly available through MAST.
  • Successful HST proposers will be eligible to apply for NASA High-End Computing Time. Please indicate whether you intend to apply for HEC time in the text of the ‘Special Requirements’ section of the PDF submission. See HST General Information, Resources, Documentation, and Tools. More information on NASA HEC Program can be found on https://www.hec.nasa.gov.

  • All non-exclusive access data for current Hubble instruments (ACS, COS, STIS, WFC3, FGS) have been made available as part of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public dataset program. Proposers may request to make use of this dataset under the Archival Cloud Computing Studies category.

  • In Cycle 30, proposers have an opportunity under the HST AR Program to obtain financial support for the development of software products that will be made available to the community for the purposes of analyzing HST data. The ‘Scientific Justification’ section of the proposal should describe the proposed software plan and also its impact on observational investigations with HST. For more information, see Cycle 30 Proposal Categories for further information, and please contact the Data Science Mission Office (dsmo@stsci.edu) for additional guidance

Instrumentation

  • With the current performance of the pointing control system, the gyro bias drift must be updated more frequently, and this is not possible when pointing under gyro control or during slewing (e.g., during moving target tracking or spatial scanning). For spatial scanning programs, each visibility period must have at least 6 minutes of time under FGS control (i.e., 6 minutes without scanning).
  • Due to the current performance of the pointing control system, the Sun avoidance angle has been increased from 50 to 54 degrees to maintain the safety of the observatory and its instruments.
  • COS NUV observations with the G285M grating are available but unsupported because of declining throughput. The available COS gratings are described in the COS Instrument Handbook. Users interested in medium-resolution spectroscopic coverage of the wavelength region from 2500 to 3200 Angstroms are encouraged to use STIS instead.
  • Users preparing COS proposals are reminded that the COS2025 policies are still in effect. These policies consist of restrictions on the choice of detector segment and FP-POS positions for the G130M observing modes. The policies are designed to maximize the FUV detector lifetime by minimizing the exposure of the FUVB detector to geocoronal Lyman-alpha emission. Under COS2025, there are now four G130M central wavelengths (cenwaves) that can be used with both detector segments on: 1055, 1096, 1222, and 1291. For the other G130M cenwaves (1300, 1309, 1318, 1327) only segment FUVA can be switched on. Observations requiring the Ly-alpha wavelength range can be performed at Lifetime Position 3 and need to be justified in the Phase I. Detailed information about the changes is available at the COS2025 policies page.
  • The COS FUV detector is susceptible to gain sag, a reduction in the ability of the detector to convert incoming photons into electrons. One strategy for mitigating this, and subsequently extending the lifetime of the COS/FUV detector, is to occasionally change the location along the cross-dispersion direction where spectra are recorded on the detector, the lifetime position (LP). In the interests of extending the lifetime of COS operations until 2030, from Cycle 30 onwards, COS will operate under a hybrid LP-mode with the following default LPs: G130M 'blue modes' = LP2, G140L = LP3, G130M/1222 = LP4, G130M standard modes = LP5, G160M = LP6. Starting in Cycle 30, G160M exposures that are approximately longer than half an orbit will use a new LP6, while shorter G160M exposures may remain at LP4 (if requested). There are several notable changes for users at LP6, such as increased overheads and a slight reduction in resolution compared to LP4. Since LP6 will be the default LP for G160M observations, users who require the use of LP4 due to overheads and/or resolution must request to do so during the Phase I process. The calibration of LP6 is expected to be complete before Cycle 30 begins, and the COS team will provide additional updates to users as they become available. Starting in Cycle 30 there will be updated FP-POS requirements for COS users at LP6. Users are encouraged to use 4 FP-POS (to achieve the maximum FP-POS at all wavelengths) regardless of their S/N goals and may do so at their discretion. However, users are permitted to use alternative FP-POS combinations at LP6 based on their S/N requirements. Use of fewer than 4 FP-POS may result in small wavelength ranges without spectral coverage. Details are provided in the COS Instrument Handbook.

  • The zeropoints for the Solar Blind Channel have been updated to correct a longstanding 30% discrepancy in the absolute flux calibration of the imaging modes. The error was found to be caused by inaccuracies in the filter and detector throughput tables used to derive the zeropoints.  The discrepancy is in the sense that the SBC is actually 30% more sensitive than previously estimated: a source of a given astronomical flux should have produced a 30% larger SBC count-rate; conversely, prior conversions of observed SBC count-rate to flux have overestimated the astronomical flux by 30%.  The throughput tables have now been corrected, and new zeropoints have been derived for the relevant imaging modes.
    In the past year, the ACS Team also characterized the time-dependent sensitivity of the SBC.  The sensitivity has been found to decline 9% since launch.  Corrections for this effect are now included in the pipeline, and adjustments to the zeropoints made accordingly.  Additionally, new flatfield reference files have been delivered for all SBC imaging filters. The total effect of these changes brings the SBC absolute flux calibration within 5% accuracy. More information can be found in ISR ACS 2019-04 and ISR ACS 2019-05.

  • Users preparing exoplanet/scanning mode grism observations with WFC3 must specify the filter to be used for the accompanying direct image in the Phase 1. Direct imaging should use the specific band recommended for a particular grism, if possible. For infrared grism observations, it is recommended to use one direct image at the beginning and end of each orbit to best calibrate for the variable background. Observers may want to consider multiple bandpass direct images.

  • Users should refer to the ETC calculations for updated recommended background levels, in particular regarding the setting of the FLASH parameter in WFC3/UVIS observations.
  • Spatial scanning with the STIS CCD is an available-but-unsupported mode for obtaining high signal-to-noise ratio spectra of bright targets. A recent analysis of this mode (as reported in the September 2020 STAN) demonstrated that after de-trending, the white light flux measurements can achieve an rms scatter of only 30 ppm.


Next: HST Proposal Checklist