It has been found valuable for national observatories to constitute a committee of users, which advises, from the users perspective, on the normal operations of the observatory, and recommends changes and improvements to both instrumentation and procedures in order to maximize scientific productivity. Such a group is needed to play a like role for Hubble Space Telescope (HST). However, the traditional structure requires modification to be utilized with HST. This observatory differs from the national observatories in that responsibilities for many aspects of the operation which may affect scientific productivity are divided between the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Therefore, the STScI and GSFC have agreed to establish a joint Users Committee (STUC) to provide user advice to the observatory as a whole. The formation of the STUC is not intended to restrict either organization's independence or freedom of action in seeking expert advice. Rather it is a practical way of ensuring that the observatory operations proceed in a coordinated manner in order to maximize its scientific performance.
The STUC has a membership of approximately twelve scientists, chosen jointly by the STScI Director and HST Project Scientist. The composition consists of Principal Investigators of HST observing programs (GOs) and members of the HST Instrument Definition teams (GTOs), including instruments under development as well as those currently installed in HST. To allow for balance between continuity and new input, members will be appointed for a three-year term starting on the date of the first meeting attended. The Director can ask a member to serve for one more year if mutually agreeable. At least two of the twelve members will be astronomers from ESA nations and will be appointed with ESA concurrence.
The chair will be nominated and appointed by the Director and Project Scientist for a one year period. The Director can ask the Chair to serve for additional one year periods. The STScI Director, the Head of Science Mission Office, the NASA Project Scientist, the NASA Program Scientist, and an ESA representative attend meetings of the group ex-officio. The Head of the Science Mission Office is the Executive Secretary of the STUC.
The scope of the Users Committee is quite broad: the STUC can set its own agenda and if necessary can establish an ad-hoc subcommittee structure to perform in-depth studies of relevant subjects. The committee will be assured of reasonable support from STScI and GSFC staff for information and clarification.
The product of the Space Telescope Users Committee deliberations consists of written reports addressed to the STScI Director and the HST Project Scientist. These reports (together with a STScI or Project response, if warranted) are made available to STIC and the Institute Visiting Committee, as well as to NASA and ESA. Shorter versions of these reports are published in the STScI Newsletter.
The STUC welcomes the comments of HST users. Please send an e-mail to the Chair: Michael Cushing.
Next STUC Meeting:
The STUC will next meet at STScI on November 5 & 6, 2015.