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Recent improvements to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) ground system have significantly increased the frequency of pure parallel observations, i.e. the simultaneous use of multiple HST instruments by different observers. Opportunities for parallel observations are limited by a variety of timing, hardware, and scientific constraints. Formerly, such opportunities were heuristically predicted prior to the construction of the primary schedule (or calendar), and lack of complete information resulted in high rates of scheduling failures and missed opportunities. In the current process the search for parallel opportunities is delayed until the primary schedule is complete, at which point new software tools are employed to identify places where parallel observations are supported. The result has been a considerable increase in parallel throughput.
A new technique, known as ``parallel crafting,'' is currently under development to streamline further the parallel scheduling process. This radically new method will replace the standard exposure logsheet with a set of abstract rules from which observation parameters will be constructed ``on the fly'' to best match the constraints of the parallel opportunity. Currently, parallel observers must specify a huge (and highly redundant) set of exposure types in order to cover all possible types of parallel opportunities. Crafting rules permit the observer to express timing, filter, and splitting preferences in a far more succinct manner.
The issue of coordinated parallel observations (same PI using different instruments simultaneously), long a troublesome aspect of the ground system, is also being addressed. For Cycle 5, the Phase II Proposal Instructions now have an exposure-level PAR WITH special requirement. While only the primary's alignment will be scheduled on the calendar, new commanding will provide for parallel exposures with both instruments.
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