Solar System observations have played a major role in HST’s science program since its launch in 1990.  Planetary observations continue to figure prominently in HST’s annual schedule, particularly through Director’s Discretionary time, but the overall proposal pressure at the TAC has decreased in recent years. After consultation with the Space Telescope Users Committee, the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Director, Matt Mountain, has constituted an advisory committee to examine this issue and provide advice on future strategies for planetary science programs with HST. The committee is chaired by Prof. Phil Nicholson (Cornell), with the committee members drawn from the planetary science community.

The committee is charged with

  • Reviewing the evolution of HST usage by the planetary community;
  • Soliciting input from the community on the future role that HST can play in planetary science and on methods for identifying key science programs; and
  • Investigating potential mechanisms for coordinating HST science programs with priorities among the planetary community.

At the present juncture, we would like to solicit suggestions from the community on ways that HST could better support planetary science, including possible changes in the way that proposals are reviewed, observing time is allocated and how scientific priorities within the planetary community could be captured and incorporated in the decisions of the TAC. Please submit your suggestions either in text form or as short (1-2 page) white papers to the e-mail address [email protected]. The committee will start considering submissions in mid- to late November.

Neill Reid, Science Mission Office, STScI