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STScI Newsletter
2024 / Volume 41 / Issue 01

About this Article

Claire Blome (cblome[at], Abigail Major (amajor[at]

When we spring forward, the institute also looks back to celebrate the year before. In 2023, staff took on new projects, reached significant milestones, and completed ongoing initiatives at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). First up: Young stars. Staff who support the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) completed and released an ambitious three-year program known as ULLYSES to support the worldwide astronomy community’s collective research about star formation.

Colleagues who support the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) watched as astronomers around the world made discoveries on all scales during its first year of science. The year included record-setting requests for observing time, and hundreds of new refereed papers based on JWST data. As the telescope’s Science Operations Center, STScI offers ongoing support to the astronomy community by frequently improving software and keeping the science community up to date with conferences and workshops.

The long horizontal is split into five sections. From left to right: Hubble image of NGC 1333 shows colors ranging from blue at the top to gold in the middle and red at the bottom. An all-sky mosaic from TESS shows a grid-like combination of images in black and white with a bright white arc from top left extending to bottom center, and a few white splotches elsewhere. Webb image of Rho Ophiuchi shows red dual opposing jets coming from young stars in the top half, while a glowing pale-yellow, cave-like structure is bottom center, tilted toward two o’clock, with a bright star at its center. An illustration represents the Roman Space Telescope, showing a tilted yellow galaxy core at center surrounded by blue spiral arms flowing counterclockwise. A transparent light blue section covers the left side, with a keyhole at the bottom. Two people stand at bottom left. At far right, the cover is deep blue and includes text, ’23 in review, at center, and the Space Telescope Science Institute logo at bottom right.
The STScI 2023 Year in Review poster offers stats about our missions and divisions, gorgeous images and an illustration, and is foldable once printed.

When the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is deployed into space in late 2026, it will begin a chapter of exciting science. Read an immersive interview with three contributors who are helping to design Roman’s Science Operations Center software, including the planning and scheduling subsystem, the data management subsystem, and the project reference database.

As the excitement for the upcoming Habitable Worlds Observatory builds, staff in STScI’s Russell B. Makidon Optics Lab report on their progress about designs for an advanced coronagraph—and the challenges they must overcome to help make the new flagship mission’s goals possible.

Accessible astronomical data is also top of mind. Colleagues who support the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) recognize that its tools often rely on Jupyter notebooks, which can be challenging to access and navigate for people with disabilities. That led staff to organize a well-rounded Day of Accessibility. This and other MAST initiatives are helping to lower barriers to embark on astronomical research.

In addition to publishing a variety of papers, many of our colleagues also began participating in a new mentorship program, which is designed to help employees carve out safe spaces for difficult conversations and give them freedom to excel.

Graph shows increasing publications based on archival, general observer data, and a mix from 1991 to 2023. The y-axis is labeled “Number of Papers” and the x-axis is labeled “Year of Publication.” Click View Description for additional details.
Researchers have published thousands of refereed articles based on HST data since the 1990s. In 2023, astronomers published more than 1,000 peer-reviewed papers using HST observations. Part indicates a combination of archival and general observer data, AR refers to archival data, and GO indicates general observer data. Access this chart at the bottom of the annual report’s By the Numbers article for an extended description of the graphic.
Graph shows publications based on archival (AR) data, general observer (GO) data, and a mix (Part) in 2022 and 2023. The y-axis is labeled “Number of Papers” and the x-axis is labeled “Years of Publication.” Papers in 2022 exceeded 50. Papers in 2023 almost met 400. The data in each line are represented by colors. Green is part, yellow is AR, and orange represents GO. 2022 shows a fairly even mix of AR and GO, with a sliver of Part at the bottom. 2023 shows a bulk of GO, followed by a significant portion of AR, and a slightly larger sliver in green.
In 2022, researchers using JWST data published just over 50 peer-reviewed papers. In 2023, the number jumped to almost 400 published peer-reviewed papers. Part indicates a combination of archival and general observer data, AR refers to archival data, and GO indicates general observer data. See all the charts that show demand for JWST and HST.

Our annual report also covers our engineering staff’s fine tuning of data processing, the top HST and JWST 2023 news stories, and how we engaged the public with astronomical discoveries. Also check out this year’s poster, for more stats, and captivating images and an illustration.



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