ACS Instrument Handbook for Cycle 25
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Advanced Camera for Surveys Instrument Handbook for Cycle 25 > Chapter 8: Overheads and Orbit-Time Determination > 8.2 ACS Exposure Overheads

8.2
 
Exposure overheads are summarized in Table 8.1 and Table 8.2. All numbers given are approximate; they do not make detailed differentiations between overheads for different ACS modes and configurations. These overhead times are to be used (in conjunction with the actual exposure times and the instructions in the HST Primer) to estimate the total number of orbits for your proposal. After your HST proposal is accepted, you will be asked to submit a Phase II proposal to support scheduling of your approved observations. At that time you will be presented with actual, up-to-date overheads by the APT scheduling software. Allowing sufficient time for overhead in your Phase I proposal is important; additional time to cover unplanned overhead will not be granted later.
The following list presents important points for each type of overhead:
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Table 8.1: Science Exposure Overheads: General
Table 8.2: ACS Science Exposure Overhead Times (Minutes)
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Note that exposures with identical observing modes are automatically generated if the observer specifies:
Phase 2 proposal optional parameter CR-SPLIT with a value greater than or equal to 2. (The default value is CR-SPLIT=2 if the Phase 2 exposure log sheet field Number_of_Iterations is at its default value of 1.)
Phase 2 exposure log sheet field Number_of_Iterations is greater than or equal to 2 (where CR-SPLIT must be set to “NO”.)
Phase 2 special requirement PATTERN is used to execute a dither pattern. In this instance, overheads will also include slew overheads.
The overhead time for serial buffer dumps arises, in certain cases, from the overheads associated with the onboard data management and switching over the cameras. The onboard buffer memory has the capacity equivalent to a single full-frame WFC image. If a commanded WFC image cannot fit into the available buffer space upon readout, the buffer must first be dumped. This process requires 349 seconds for an entirely filled buffer, or correspondingly less for a partially filled buffer.
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The APT scheduling software has an “Orbit Planner” module that shows the buffer-dump periods vis-a-vis the exposure sequence. The prior discussions regarding parallel versus serial buffer-dumping is only apropos when no other HST instrument is taking data at the same time as ACS. Please consult the APT Orbit Planner for buffer dump management when using two instruments simultaneously.
8.2.1 Subarrays
At the end of each exposure, data are read out into ACS’s internal buffer memory where they are stored until they are dumped into HST’s solid state data recorder. The ACS internal buffer memory holds 34 MB or the equivalent of 1 full WFC frame, or 16 SBC frames. Thus, after observing a full WFC frame, the internal buffer memory must be dumped before the next exposure can be taken. The dump of a completely filled buffer takes 349 seconds and may not occur while ACS is being actively commanded. Of this time, 337 seconds is spent dumping the image. Correspondingly, less time is required to dump the buffer in parallel, if the buffer is less than full when needing to be dumped to store the next exposure. The buffer dump cannot be executed in parallel with the next exposure if the latter is shorter than 337 seconds. If the next exposure is less than 337 seconds the buffer dump will create an extra 5.8 minutes of overhead.
If your science program is such that a smaller FOV can be used, then one way of reducing the frequency of buffer dumps (and their associated overheads) is to use WFC subarrays. During subarray readouts, only one amplifier is used, and with potentially reduced number of rows from the full 2048. Many more subarray frames can be stored before requiring a buffer dump: four 2K-frames; eight 1K-frames; or sixteen 512-frames. Subarrays with fewer than 2048 rows also benefit from reduced overhead due to smaller readout times.

Advanced Camera for Surveys Instrument Handbook for Cycle 25 > Chapter 8: Overheads and Orbit-Time Determination > 8.2 ACS Exposure Overheads

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