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Appendix B. HST Program Office Continuous Improvement Initiatives

The HST Program Office, working with the STScI, has implemented continuous improvement initiatives and developed performance metric data as described below.8

Continuous Improvement Initiatives

  • New detectors with wide formats have improved telescope efficiency and have significantly increased the volume of science data the telescope captures.

  • The solid-state data recorder and computer upgrades have improved telescope observation scheduling. As a result, researchers have realized gains in target and science data volume.

  • Commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware have significantly advanced technical capability while keeping costs lower. These costs are less than those incurred in developing the first generation of science instruments and spacecraft hardware.

Performance Metric Data

  • Science data cost-efficiency has increased by 1,500 percent. Over the last 8 years, the above initiatives have increased science data volume by 1,200 percent. Although data volume has increased dramatically, management reduced data capture costs by 20 percent as compared to previous years.

  • The HST program has measured science performance from citations in published journals. In 1996, more than 3 percent of every 30 papers published in refereed astronomy journals was based on HST data. In 1996, more than 14 percent of high-impact journal articles used HST data. High-impact articles are defined as the most cited, refereed journal articles published. In 1997, Science News attributed 1 percent of the most important discoveries to HST. The discoveries applied worldwide, across all fields of science.

8 The continuous improvement initiatives include the increase in science data produced up through 1997. The initiatives do not consider the effect of instruments installed after 1997. The Hubble Program Director, the Hubble Program Scientist, the STScI Director, and staff described the above continuous improvement initiatives and provided the performance metric data.

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