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STIS Design Highlights

STIS has three detectors and various imaging modes and optical elements. Its versatile design and array of components enables observing modes that are both standard (eg. spectroscopy in the UV and optical) and non-standard (eg. high signal-to-noise spatial scans).


  • One CCD (optical) and two MAMAs (NUV and FUV).
  • Two-dimensional detectors with wavelength sensitivity ranging from the ultraviolet to the near infrared. 
  • The STIS optics and detectors have been designed to exploit HST's high spatial resolution.
  • Numerous Apertures and Filters are available in the STIS slit wheel.
  • First-order gratings cover the full spectral range and are designed for spatially resolved spectroscopy using a long slit.
  • Echelle gratings, available only in the ultraviolet, are designed to maximize the spectral coverage in single observations of point sources.
  • STIS Flight Software allows for onboard target acquisitions and peakups which place targets on slits, coronographic masks, or occulting bars.
  • Corrective optics compensate for HST's spherical aberration, a telescope focal-plane slit-wheel assembly, collimating optics, a grating-selection mechanism, fixed optics, and camera focal-plane detectors.
  • Independent calibration-lamp assembly can illuminate the focal plane with a range of continuum and emission lamps.

Additional Information

More information can be found in these pages. Additionally, Woodgate et al. (1998, PASP, 110, 1183) provides an excellent technical description of the STIS design.

Last Updated: 06/02/2023


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