Between launch on 14 Februrary 1997 and failure of the Side-1 electronics on 16 May 2001, CCD temperature was stabilized at -83ºC. During the Side-1 era, the CCD median dark rate rose from 0.0013 to 0.0043 e-/sec/pix. CCD temperature cannot be stabilized with the Side-2 electronics, so after 16 May 2001, thermal fluctuations perturb the dark rate. It has been shown that the temperature of the CCD housing closely follows the CCD temperature. For this reason the CCD housing temperature (available in the telemetry value OCCDHTAV) is used by the On the Fly Reprocessing (OTFR) to correct the dark rate. For more information please see STIS ISR 2001-03 and Section 7.3.1 of the STIS Instrument Handbook.
Because bright UV illumination temporarily increases CCD dark rate, acquisition exposures should use the long pass filter, rather than the clear aperture.
When the FUV-MAMA detector HV is initially turned on, the dark rate can be as low as 6.4e-6 counts/pixel/s, but as the detector operates, an extended glow centered in the upper-left hand quadrant of the detector begins to appear. The rate at which this glow increases has itself been increasing with time. The unpredictable nature of this glow has made it impractical to subtract this in the OTFR pipeline, however, mean images of this glow have been made available to assist observers in subtracting this from their data.
After STIS was repaired in May 2009, the glow continued to follow pre-failure trends. Current predictions suggest that the peak of the glow may increase by about 1e-6 counts/pixel/sec/HST-orbit.
Note that in the lower right hand corner of the detector, the glow is usually absent, and the dark rate in that part of the detector remains near 6.4e-6 counts/pixel/s, even after the detector HV has been on for several orbits.
Prior to the "Side-2" failure in 2004, the NUV-MAMA dark rate varied between 0.0017 and 0.00067 counts/sec/pix, depending on temperature, due mainly to phosphorescence by impurities in the detector faceplate. After the "Side-2" repair in May 2009, the NUV-MAMA dark rate was observed to be much higher than expected. Since May 2009, it has been declining. As of Jan 2010, the NUV dark rate is about 0.005 counts/sec/pix. For additional information please see Section 7.5.2 of the STIS Instrument Handbook.
Sunlight reflected by the Earth or the Moon can scatter onto STIS detectors, so the corresponding background depends on the angle between the target and the bright limb of the Earth or Moon.
Zodiacal background varies as a function of helio-ecliptic coordinates.
Low background scheduling can be requested in a Phase 1 proposal, and if approved, specified in the Phase 2 proposal using the LOW-SKY special requirement. Please see HST Phase II Proposal Instructions for additional information.
Note that FUV-MAMA images with the clear or Ly-alpha filter will be dominated by variable geocoronal Ly-alpha background.
Scheduling when geocoronal lines are weak can be requested in a Phase 1 proposal, and if approved, specified in the Phase 2 proposal using the SHADOW special requirement. Please see HST Phase II Proposal Instructions for additional information.