The Wide Field Camera 3
) is a fourth-generation imaging instrument. It was installed in the Hubble Space Telescope
) during Servicing Mission 4 (SM4) in May 2009. WFC3 saw first light on June 24, 2009, following the cooling of its detectors. Servicing Mission 4 Observatory Verification (SMOV) activities were completed in late August 2009, and were followed by the Cycle 17 calibration and science programs.
This WFC3 Instrument Handbook
has been prepared by the WFC3 team at STScI. It is the basic technical reference manual for WFC3 observers. The information in this Handbook
is intended to be useful for Cycle 21 Phase I proposers, for the subsequently selected General Observers (GOs) as they prepare their Phase II specifications, and for those analyzing WFC3 data. The HST Primer
and the HST Call for Proposals
also contain valuable information for proposers, and the Call for Proposals
is the final authority on HST
This edition of the WFC3 Instrument Handbook
(Version 5.0) was written near the end of the execution of the Cycle 19 calibration plan. It supersedes Version 4.0, and includes results from analysis of the first three cycles of on-orbit performance.
The WFC3 instrument occupies HST
’s radial scientific-instrument bay, from where it obtains on-axis direct images. During SM4 the shuttle astronauts installed WFC3 in place of the long-serving Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). WFPC2, in turn, was installed during SM1 in December 1993, to replace the original Wide Field/Planetary Camera (WF/PC1). WFC3, like WFPC2, contains optics that correct for the spherical aberration discovered in the HST
primary mirror following launch of the telescope in April 1990.
WFC3 is designed to ensure that HST
maintains its powerful imaging capabilities until the end of its mission, while at the same time advancing its survey and discovery capability through WFC3’s combination of broad wavelength coverage, wide field of view, and high sensitivity. WFC3 also provides a good degree of redundancy for the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and has replaced some of the capabilities of the Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) cameras.