Predicting the Number of Hubble Proposals

By Julianne Dalcanton | November 17, 2009 7:06 pm

This is rather “inside baseball”, but back when Cycle 17 Hubble Space Telescope (HST) proposals were being written, I plotted up the number of proposals as a function of time until deadline. Right now, a signficant fraction of the astronomical community is involved in crafting “multicycle” proposals for the telescope. The idea is that there are probably useful projects that are sooooo time consuming that you couldn’t possibly do them through normal proposal channels.

Well, the race is on! Here’s the data on what I know of so far. We’re up to 8 proposals at 24 hours before the deadline. With the enormous sample of two, count ’em, two data points, we’re on the same curve as we were for Cycle 17 (plotted in black), but scaled down by a factor of 27. The blue line is extrapolating an exponential to the current rate of proposal submission. Both tracks argue for about 30 proposals going in. The scaling factor of 27 suggests that there will be an average of 27 people on each proposal, if Steinn’s argument that the number of proposals is set solely by the size of the community holds. The late-time development of this curve could be way off, however, because there is no way to put one of these together at the last minute. (On the other hand, the proposed experiments are so immensely complicated, that maybe the only way you get them done is waiting until the last minute).


I’ll update the plot if people give data in the comments! (Updated! I cut the blue exponential fit in the revised plot, as it was a lousy match.)


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