1.1 Overview

The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) is a versatile imaging spectrograph, complementary to (not superseded by) the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). The instrument provides spatially resolved spectroscopy from 1150 to 10,300 Å at low to medium spectral resolution, high spatial resolution echelle spectroscopy in the ultraviolet (UV), solar-blind imaging in the UV, time tagging of photons in the UV for high time resolution, and direct and coronagraphic imaging in the optical. 

STIS was successfully repaired during the fourth HST servicing mission (SM4) in May 2009 and has resumed science operations with all channels. This followed a nearly five year long suspension of science operations that began in August 2004, when a power supply in the Side-2 electronics had failed. Most aspects of instrument operations and performance are very similar to what they were prior to the 2004 failure. There are, however, some important changes, which will be outlined in Chapter 2 with additional details given elsewhere in this Handbook as appropriate. 

This Handbook provides instrument-specific information you need to propose for STIS observations (Phase I), design accepted programs (Phase II), and understand STIS in detail. 

This chapter explains the layout of the Handbook and describes how to use the Help Desk at STScI and the STScI STIS website to get help and further information. Instrument and operating updates will be posted on the STIS website.