The mission of the Research and Instrument Analysis Branch (RIAB) is to assist Instrument Scientists and HST General Observers in the processing and analysis of scientific, calibration and engineering data. This involves past and present Hubble Space Telescope instruments, development of the James Webb Space Telescope instruments, and projects in STScI's detector and optics labs. In addition, our staff provides data processing and analysis for the scientific programs of STScI staff scientists.
Our staff is made up of Research and Instrument Analysts (RIA), which have Bachelors, Masters or Ph.D. degrees in Astronomy or related fields -- see our staff photo gallery. Their duties are typically focused on manipulation and interpretation of data (i.e. images, spectra) using science software tools such as STSDAS/IRAF and IDL within a Unix operating environment. For example, this might include processing raw images into a finished product suitable for scientific or calibration studies; performing scientific measurements of those images; interpreting results through comparison to model predictions; using available software tools or writing code for special analyses; creating presentation-quality charts and images for presentation or publication.
Further activities involve the development and writing of software code, from small scripts to large custom data processing or analysis routines (typically in python). Analysts are also involved in preparing observing proposals and writing reports documenting calibration results, and may present those results in team meetings or at conferences. Occasionally analysts take responsibility for observing runs at ground-based telescopes.