In some eyes, the Phase I proposal selection process is the most important activity handled by the Space Telescope
Science Institute (STScI). Proposing for HST and other missions consists of requesting observing time and/or archival
research funding. This step is called Phase I, where the scientific merit of a proposal is considered by a community
based peer-review process. Accepted proposals then proceed thru Phase II, where the observations are specified in
sufficient detail to enable scheduling on the telescope.
Each cycle the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC) reviews proposals and awards
observing time that is valued at $0.5B, when the total expenditures for HST over its lifetime are figured on an annual
basis. This is in fact a very important endeavor that we continue to fine-tune and tweak. This process is open to the
science community and we constantly receive comments and praise for this process. In this last year we have had to deal
with the loss of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and move from 3-gyro operations to 2-gyro
This paper will outline how operational issues impact the HST science peer review process. We will discuss the process
that was used to recover from the loss of the STIS instrument and how we dealt with the loss of 1/3 of the current
science observations. We will also discuss the issues relating to 3-gyro vs. 2-gyro operations and how that changes
impacted Proposers, our in-house processing and the TAC.
After a decade of Hubble Space Telescope (HST) operations, observations, and publications, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) decided it was pertinent to measure the scientific effectiveness of the HST observing programs. To this end, we have developed a methodology and a set of software tools to measure - quantitatively and objectively - the impact of HST observations on astrophysical research. We have gathered Phase I and Phase II information on the observing programs from existing STScI databases, among them the Multi-mission Archive at Space Telescope (MAST). We have gathered numbers of refereed papers and their citations from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), cross-checking information and verifying that our information is as complete and reliable as possible. We have created a unified database with links connecting any specific set of HST observations to one or more scientific publications. We use this system to evaluate the scientific outcomes of HST observations according to type and time. In this paper, we present a few such HST metrics that we are using to evaluate the scientific effectiveness of the Hubble Space Telescope.
With the development and operations deployment of the Astronomer's Proposal Tool (APT), Hubble Space Telescope (HST) proposers have been provided with an integrated toolset for Phase I and Phase II. This toolset consists of editors for filling out proposal information, an Orbit Planner for determining observation feasibility, a Visit Planner for determining schedulability, diagnostic and reporting tools and an integrated Visual Target Tuner (VTT) for viewing exposure specifications. The VTT can also overlay HST’s field of view on user-selected Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) images, perform bright object checks and query the HST archive. In addition to these direct benefits for the HST user, STScI’s internal Phase I process has been able to take advantage of the APT products. APT has enabled a substantial streamlining of the process and software processing tools, which enabled a compression by three months of the Phase I to Phase II schedule, allowing to schedule observations earlier and thus further benefiting HST observers. Some of the improvements to our process include: creating a compact disk (CD) of Phase I products; being able to print all proposals on the day of the deadline; link the proposal in Portable Document Format (PDF) with a database, and being able to run all Phase I software on a single platform. In this paper we will discuss the operational results of using APT for HST's Cycles 12 and 13 Phase I process and will show the improvements for the users and the overall process that is allowing STScI to obtain scientific results with HST three months earlier than in previous years. We will also show how APT can be and is being used for multiple missions.
In some eyes, the Phase I proposal selection process is the most important activity handled by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Proposing for HST and other missions consists of requesting observing time and/or archival research funding. This step is called Phase I, where the scientific merit of a proposal is considered by a community based peer-review process. Accepted proposals then proceed thru Phase II, where the observations are specified in sufficient detail to enable scheduling on the telescope.
Each cycle the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC) reviews proposals and awards observing time that is valued at $0.5B, when the total expenditures for HST over its lifetime are figured on an annual basis. This is in fact a very important endeavor that we continue to fine-tune and tweak. This process is open to the science community and we constantly receive comments and praise for this process.
Several cycles ago we instituted several significant changes to the process to address concerns such as: Fewer, broader panels, with redundancy to avoid conflicts of interest; Redefinition of the TAC role, to focus on Larger programs; and incentives for the panels to award time to medium sized proposals. In the last cycle, we offered new initiatives to try to enhance the scientific output of the telescope. Some of these initiatives were: Hubble Treasury Program; AR Legacy Program; and the AR Theory Program.
This paper will outline the current HST Peer review process. We will discuss why we made changes and how we made changes from our original system. We will also discuss some ideas as to where we may go in the future to generate a stronger science program for HST and to reduce the burden on the science community. This paper is an update of the status of the HST Peer Review Process that was described in the published paper "Evolution of the HST Proposal Selection Process".
In the continuing effort to streamline our systems and improve service to the science community, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is developing and releasing, APT - The Astronomer’s Proposal Tool as the new interface for Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Phase I and Phase II proposal submissions for HST Cycle 12. APT, was formerly called the Scientist's Expert Assistant (SEA), which started as a prototype effort to try and bring state of the art technology, more visual tools and power into the hands of proposers so that they can optimize the scientific return of their programs as well as HST.
Proposing for HST and other missions, consists of requesting observing time and/or archival research funding. This step is called Phase I, where the scientific merit of a proposal is considered by a community based peer-review process. Accepted proposals then proceed thru Phase II, where the observations are specified in sufficient detail to enable scheduling on the telescope.
In this paper, we will present our concept and implementation plans for our Phase I development and submission tool, APT. More importantly, we will go behind the scenes and discuss why it's important for the Science Policies Division (SPD) and other groups at the STScI to have a new submission tool and submission output products. This paper is an update of the status of the HST Phase I Proposal Processing System that was described in the published paper “A New Era for HST Phase I Development and Submission.”
With the successful launch of NASA's third 'Great Observatory,' the Chandra X-ray Observatory (formerly AXAF), we are embarking on a new era of multi-wavelength science campaigns from space. To meet this challenge, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) have initiated a test program whereby proposals of a multi-wavelength nature requiring both Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and Chandra data can be submitted to either the HST Review Panel or the Chandra Review Panel. This joint activity enables proposers to avoid the 'double jeopardy' of submitting to two separate reviews. By agreement with the CXC, STScI will award up to 400 kiloseconds of Chandra observing time, and similarly the CXC will award up to 100 orbits of HST time (about one week of observing time for each observatory). The only criterion above and beyond the usual review criteria is that both sets of data are required to meet the scientific goals. We discuss the multi-wavelength allocation concept, how the process worked for HST's Cycle 9 Review and modifications expected for Chandra's Cycle 2 Review. We will also address other missions, such as EUVE, FUSE, NOAO, SIRTF and NGST that might be included in coordinated observation time allocation in the future.
As the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) moves into its Second Decade of observations, we are embarking on bringing our Phase I submission system into the 21st Century as well. Proposing for Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observing time and archival research proceeds in two phases. In Phase I, the scientific merits of the proposal are considered. Only accepted proposals enter Phase II, where the observations are specified in complete detail. With the advent of state of the art technology and the excellent prototyping work that has brought the Astronomer's Proposal Tool (APT), formerly the Scientist's Expert Assistant (SEA), from a concept 3 years ago, to an approved Project for implementation, at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). We plan to make HST's Phase I submission system to be an integral part of the APT. We have always tried to maintain our Phase I strategy of keeping the interface simple, as well as having a minimal learning curve. This strategy will be maintained in the APT framework as well. In this paper we will present our concept for the Science definition, and Phase I proposal development and submission tools. We also discuss how we are transforming our current Call for Proposals (CP) document into a smaller and more concise electronic document that will address our policies and submission process. This document will be built and maintained using innovative tools and XML. We will provide links to existing documentation as well as provide all of the relevant information available via the tool as on-line 'context- sensitive' help.
Through Cycle 8, the process of selecting HST proposals was extremely successful, according to hundreds of scientists involved in the proposal review. Yet the system showed signs of strain, as the number of proposals doubled and the panels/TAC grew commensurately. This led to highly specialized panels, each with limited amounts of observing time to award, and an increasingly narrow scientific focus that exacerbated the natural tension between scientific expertise and conflict of interest. The TAC's role of establishing priorities among scientific disciplines became simultaneously more critical and more difficult to carry out. Furthermore, the scientific community advised us strongly, starting in Cycle 7, that more HST observing time should be devoted to larger programs (> 100 orbits). For Cycle 9 we instituted significant changes to address these issues: (1) Fewer, much broader panels, with redundancy to avoid conflicts of interest. (2) TAC role re- defined, to focus on awarding a significant fraction (1/4 - 1/3) of the available time to > 100-orbit proposals. (3) Incentives for panels to award time to 'mid-sized' proposals. We outline these changes in greater detail, and describe to what extent their implementation in the Cycle 9 review achieved the goals of more large programs, fewer conflicts of interest for reviewers, and a stronger science program for HST.
As institutions and observatories are required to handle more tasks with fewer resources, the need to assist or automate some of the processing becomes crucial. One of the easiest tasks to automate is the front-end process of requesting to use the telescope. Proposing for Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observing time and archival research proceeds to two phases: in Phase I, the scientific merits of the proposal are considered, and only accepted proposals enter Phase II, where the observations are specified in complete detail. The HST Phase I process includes obtaining, completing, and submitting proposal forms. The automation includes making the proposal forms available, and allowing them to be submitted electronically. By providing a standard proposal form, the necessary information contained in the proposal is extracted and processed by software. Tracking and low-level error detection can be handled with software, while more intellectually challenging tasks are handled by people. This paper discusses the current system for Phase I proposers to use the HST, including some of the tools available for automating a proposal submission process. This paper is an update of the system described in the published paper 'Computer-assisted Proposal Submission Systems'. This system has been in use for the past three HST cycles and is being used for the most current call for proposals.
Writing, reviewing, and selecting the proposals which are to define the science program of any state-of-the-art observatory/space mission are all tasks which have grown in complexity, and as a consequence large amounts of time and effort are currently being invested in this process by proposers as well as reviewers. Viewed from the opposite vantage point, the currently used solicitation and selection process is a significant operational expense: mailing paper copies of proposals and gathering reviewers for panel meetings and a 'time allocation committee' involves a large amount of logistical support and time by the observatory staff. Finally, the batching of proposals into yearly cycles increases the time form concept of a scientific idea to receipt of actual data which decreases the ability to respond to new scientific developments and also increases the general operational overhead of handling a large batch of observations. In this paper we explore two experimental steps towards an optimal proposal selection process: streamlining the current process via 'paperless' and 'groupware' technologies, and use of a 'steady state' process which accepts submission of the reviews proposals continuously. The pros and cons of each approach are examined and we demonstrate that not only are the enabling technologies available, but when resources are considered in a global manner we can identify both major improvements to the current process and significant reductions in the expenditure of resources.