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Advanced Camera for Surveys Instrument Handbook for Cycle 20 > Chapter 4: Detector Performance > 4.4 The SBC MAMA

The ACS MAMA detector is the STIS flight spare STF7. It provides coverage from 1150  to 1700 . The MAMA detector is a photon-counting device which processes events serially. The ACS MAMA only operates in the accumulate (ACCUM) mode, in which a time-integrated image is produced. Unlike the STIS MAMAs, the ACS does not offer the high-resolution (2048  2048) mode or time-tagged data acquisition. The primary benefits afforded by the STIS and ACS MAMAs, in comparison with previous HST UV spectroscopic detectors such as those in the GHRS and FOS, are high spatial resolution, two-dimensional imaging over a relatively large field of view, and narrow slits that lower contamination by the sky.
Figure 4.11 illustrates the design of the MAMA, which has an opaque CsI photocathode deposited directly on the face of the curved microchannel plate (MCP). Target photons strike the photocathode, liberating single photoelectrons which pass into the MCP, where a pulse of ~4105 e is generated. The pulse is recorded by an anode array behind the photocathode and detected by the MAMA electronics which rejects false pulses and determines the position of the photon event on the detector.
The field electrode, or repeller wire, repels electrons emitted from the microchannel plate back into the channels. This provides an increase in quantum efficiency of the detector at the price of an increase in the detector point spread function halo. The repeller wire voltage is always on for SBC observations.
Figure 4.11: Design of the SBC MAMA.
Table 4.7: SBC detector performance characteristics.
1024  1024 pixel
25  25 μm
~0.034  0.030 /pixel
34.6 x 30.8
~5  10-5 e-/second/pixel
< 1.2  10-9 above 400 nm

The dark count increases with the length of time the SBC is turned on, beginning at about 10-5 electrons/pixel/second and increasing by about a factor of five over two hours.

Rate at which counting shows 1% deviation from linearity.

The total transmission curve for the SBC with the PR110L prism is shown in Figure 4.12. The peak photocathode response occurs at Lyman-α. Its spectral response is defined by the cutoff of the MgF2 window at 1150  at short wavelengths, and by the relatively steep decline of the CsI photocathode at long wavelengths.
Observations of flux calibration stars and a G-type star using the SBC PR110L prism have revealed that the sensitivity of the MAMA detector to optical and near-UV light is apparently much larger than previously thought (Boffi et al., TIR 2008-021).
Estimates of the real SBC throughput indicates that the detector efficiency is factors of approximately 50 and 1000 higher at wavelengths of 3000  and 4000  respectively compared to ground testing. For a solar type spectrum, this can mean that one-half or more of the counts detected are due to optical and near-UV photons, rather than from the expected FUV photons. The updated sensitivity curve has been incorporated both in the Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) and in Synphot2 since November 2007. There is also some evidence that this red leak changes as the SBC detector warms up, increasing by as much as 30% over the course of 5 orbits. It is not yet clear if this red leak has also been increasing secularly over time. STIS FUV MAMA data seem to show a similar, although perhaps somewhat smaller effect.
For dispersed PR110L and PR130L observations, it is straightforward to identify this extra red light; however, it clearly also affects SBC imaging observations done with the long pass filters. Until this effect is better understood and calibrated, extreme caution should be used when interpreting FUV imaging observations of red targets. Observers who need to measure FUV fluxes of red targets may wish to consider interleaving observations with two different SBC long pass filters (e.g., F140LP and F165LP), so that the difference in the count rates can be used to isolate the true FUV flux.
Figure 4.12: Total transmission curve for ACS SBC plus the PR110L prism.
The SBC exhibits low-level extended wings in the detector point-spread function (PSF). Sample MAMA detector PSF profiles are shown in Figure 4.13.
Figure 4.13: MAMA point spread function.

TIRs (Technical Instrument Reports) are available upon request. Please contact for a copy.)

Synphot will soon be replaced by the pysynphot package, a significantly improved re-implementation of Synphot written in Python. Please visit the pysynphot Web page at:

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