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calnicb stsdas.hst_calib.nicmos



calnicb -- Process NICMOS associated data.


calnicb input


The CALNICB task produces combined, or "mosaiced", images from the multiple images contained in a NICMOS associated data set. The task also performs background subtraction and source identification on the images in the association. CALNICB is generally run after all images that make up an associated set have been calibrated individually using the CALNICA task.

Associations are created at the proposal stage via two mechanisms: setting the parameter "NUM_ITER" (number of exposure iterations) to a value greater than 1; setting the parameter "PATTERN" so that a series of exposures are executed over a predefined sky pattern. Both PATTERN and NUM_ITER > 1 may be set simultaneously, which results in a pattern of exposures with NUM_ITER exposures obtained at each pattern position. CALNICB combines the NUM_ITER exposures at each pattern position into a single image and produces a mosaic out of the entire pattern sequence.

The CALNICB task has two levels of both input and output data. Input data is in the form of an association table, which contains the names of each member of the association, and the files containing the individual member images. Only the name of the input association (ASN) table is used as input to the task. The ASN table usually has a filename of the form "<assoc_id>_asn.fits". More details about the contents of the ASN table are given below.

Output data is in the form of an updated copy of the association table, and the combined or mosaiced images. The output association (ASC) table has a filename of the form "<assoc_id>_asc.fits". The ASC table contains all the information from the input ASN table, as well as additional information about the processing that took place (see below). There are one or more output mosaic (MOS) images produced, the exact number depending on the type of pattern used, if any. There will always be one MOS image produced for the target field. Some patterns also result in observations of one or more offset or "chop" pointings for measurements of the background. As these are distinct observations, each one results in a separate output MOS image. The MOS filenames are of the form "<assoc_id>n_mos.fits", where n can run from 0 to 8. The MOS file containing the target field always has n = 0, while the background observations, if any, will have 1 < n < 8.

CALNICB versions 2.2 and later allow for the reuse of a previously created ASC table as input to the task on subsequent processing runs. This allows the user to adjust the image background and/or offset values contained in the ASC table and use that information to override the normal computation of those values by CALNICB (see below).

The CALNICB task is completely data driven, in that the calibration steps carried out by CALNICB are determined by the values of certain keywords contained in the input image headers and in the input association (ASN) table. CALNICB determines what processing is necessary, as well as parameters that control the processing, from information contained in the ASN table and the input images.


input [filename]
The name of the input NICMOS association table.
(subbkg = yes) [boolean]
Subtract the scalar background from all images?
(meanbkg = yes) [boolean]
When subtracting the scalar background, use the mean background computed from all images, or subtract the scalar background of each individual image from itself? When processing an association that contains any type of chop pattern, this parameter must be set to yes, as the mean scalar background must be used to perform the subtraction from target images.
(readbkg = no) [boolean]
Read the scalar background values for each image from the input association table, instead of computing them?
(readoffsets = no) [boolean]
Read the image offsets to be used for mosaicing from the input association table, instead of computing them?
(crthresh = 5.0) [real, min=0]
Cosmic ray rejection threshold, in units of sigma, to be used during image combination steps.
(xcwin = 3) [int, min=1]
Cross-correlation search window half-width, in pixels, to be used when determining image registrations.


The processing steps, briefly, are:

1) Read the input ASN table and input images
2) Determine processing parameters from keyword values
3) Identify sources in the images
4) Combine multiple images at individual pattern positions
5) Estimate and remove the background signal
6) Create a mosaic image from all pattern positions
7) Write the output ASC table and mosaic images

The processing steps, in more detail, are:

The first thing CALNICB does is read the list of association image names from the input ASN table. The input ASN table contains three columns of information: 1) the root name (ipppssoot) of each image in the association (hereafter referred to as the association "members"); 2) the role or type of each member; and 3) a flag indicating whether or not each member is present. The names of these columns are "MEMNAME", "MEMTYPE", and "MEMPRSNT". The task builds complete filenames from the rootnames in the MEMNAME column by appending the suffix and extension "_cal.fits" to the rootnames. Therefore the input image filenames must conform to this syntax.

In addition to the list of input members, the ASN table also contains the rootnames of the output mosaic (MOS) products. CALNICB uses these rootnames to build complete output MOS filenames by appending the suffix and extension "_mos.fits" to each rootname.

The MEMTYPE column values are used by CALNICB to determine whether a member name refers to an input or an output file. The possible values for MEMTYPE are: "EXP-TARG", "EXP-BCKn", "PROD-TARG", and "PROD-BCKn". The prefix "EXP" indicates an input exposure, while "PROD" indicates an output product. The suffix "TARG" indicates a member that contains the target of interest, while "BCKn" refers to one of n background images that may be present in the association. Background images only exist in patterns that contain a CHOP to one or more off-target sky locations.

The MEMPRSNT column data are really only necessary for processing that takes place in the Routine Science Data Processing (RSDP) pipeline at STScI. CALNICB will quit if this information indicates that any one of the input members is not present.

If the task parameter readbkg=yes, scalar background values for each input image will be read from the MEANBCK column of the input association table. Similarly, if the task parameter readoffsets=yes, image offsets will be read from the XOFFSET and YOFFSET columns.

The keywords that control the background illumination pattern correction (ILLMCORR) step are read from ASN table header keywords. The keywords that are read are: ILLMCORR - which can be set to either "PERFORM" or "OMIT" and determines whether or not to perform the ILLMCORR step; ILLMFILE - which contains the name of the illumination pattern reference image that will be used by the ILLMCORR step.

The next step is to simply read the input member images that were listed in the ASN table. It is assumed that these will be calibrated ("cal") files produced by the CALNICA task. Hence if the input observations were obtained in MultiAccum mode, only the final, combined image files produced by CALNICA will be used as input to CALNICB.
Many input image header keywords are read and evaluated in order to guide the processing. One set of keywords pertains to the association as a whole and therefore are read only once from the first input member image. They are:
| Keyword  | Purpose                               |
| INSTRUME | Is this NICMOS data?                  |
| CAMERA   | What camera?                          |
| FILTER   | If "BLANK", then they're DARK images  |
| IMAGETYP | Are they FLAT field images?           |
| NUMITER  | What was NUM_ITER set to?             |
| PATTERN  | What pattern was used?                |
| NUMPOS   | How many pattern positions were used? |
If the images are DARKs or FLATs, the ILLMCORR step is turned off.

A second set of keywords are unique for each member and are therefore read from each input CAL file:

| Keyword  | Purpose                                          |
| PATT_POS | What pattern position does this image belong to? |
| BACKESTn | What were the CALNICA background estimates?      |
| CRPIXn   | World                                            |
| CRVALn   |       Coordinate                                 |
| CDn_n    |                  System                          |
| CTYPEn   |                         (WCS) Information        |
Based on this information, an "inventory" is taken of what input images exist, where they belong in the pattern, how many there are at each pattern position, which images are from the target field, which ones are from background fields, and which output MOS image each one will eventually end up in. A summary of this information is printed to the screen during processing.
The ILLMFILE reference file, used by the ILLMCORR step (see below), is loaded. A check is performed to make sure that the chosen ILLMFILE matches the CAMERA and FILTER of the images being processed.
The images at each pattern position are searched for pixels suspected to contain signal from a source. This is done by first computing the median signal level in the image and then searching for pixels that are more than 4.5 sigma above this level. Spurious results, such as pixels containing cosmic-ray hits, are filtered out by searching neighboring pixels and only retaining those that have 2 or more neighbors that are also above the threshold. Surviving pixels have a data quality (DQ) flag value of 1024 turned on. This step is not performed for DARK or FLAT images.
If there is more than one image at any of the pattern positions, the multiple images at each position are combined into a single image. Before combining the images at a given position, the registration of those images is checked. The coordinates (as determined by the WCS keywords) of the first image at a given pattern position are used as a reference and offsets to all other images at that pattern position are computed by comparing their WCS data. The offsets computed from the WCS are then refined using a cross-correlation technique. The cross-correlation uses only those pixels previously flagged as containing a source and refines the offsets down to a level of 0.15 pixels. The computed offsets, in units of pixels, are printed to the screen during processing and are also recorded in the output ASC table.

If the task parameter readoffsets=yes, then the offsets from the input association table are used, and the cross-correlation of the images is skipped.

After determining the relative offsets, the images are aligned using bilinear interpolation and are then combined on a pixel-by-pixel basis. The combined pixel values are computed as a weighted mean of all unflagged (i.e. DQ = 0) samples, using the input image ERR values as weights. If 3 or more samples are present, iterative sigma-clipping is performed to reject outliers. The number of samples used at each pixel and the total integration time are retained.

If processing DARK or FLAT images, the determination of offsets is skipped and all offsets are set to zero so that these images will be aligned and combined in pixel space.

From this point forward, all further processing is performed on the combined images only.

Background signal is estimated and removed from the images at each pattern position. The removal of background is a two-step process: 1) a constant (one-dimensional) background signal level is estimated and subtracted from all images; and 2) the two-dimensional residual signal that may exist due to spatial variations in the thermal emission of the telescope and instrument is removed by subtracting the ILLMFILE reference image. Note that this second step can be turned on or off via the ILLMCORR keyword in the ASN table header.

The constant background signal level is estimated and removed as follows. 1) If a pattern was used that includes chopping the field-of-view to background sky regions, the median and average deviation of the signal in the image at each chop position is computed. In addition to excluding bad and source-flagged pixels, the calculation of the median also uses iterative sigma-clipping to reject outliers. If there are no background-only images in the association (i.e. a CHOP pattern was not used) the median and sigma of the target images is computed. A warning is issued in this case, which alerts the user to the fact that the background calculation may be biased by the presence of the target. 2) If target images had to be used in the calculation of the constant background level, the result for each image is compared to the estimate provided by CALNICA, which is stored in the BACKEST1 header keyword of each image. If the value computed by CALNICB is more than 5 sigma deviant from that of CALNICA, it is assumed that the CALNICB value has been biased by the presence of sources and the CALNICA value is substituted for it. 3) The mean and sigma of all the background values computed for each image is computed, using iterative sigma-clipping to reject outliers. 4) The final mean background value is subtracted from all images (both target and background images, if present).

If the task parameter readbkg=yes, then the scalar background values read from the input association table are used, and the computation of the backgrounds is skipped.

Following the subtraction of the constant background signal, the background illumination pattern reference file ILLMFILE is subtracted from all images.

Background estimation and removal is not performed for DARK or FLAT images.

A mosaic (MOS) image is created for each independent pointing within the pattern. For example, a pure DITHER pattern will produce one MOS image, made up of the images at all the pattern positions. A CHOP pattern will produce one MOS image for the target pointing and one MOS image for each CHOP (background) pointing; a ONE-CHOP produces one target and one background MOS image, a TWO-CHOP produces one target and two background MOS images, etc. A combination DITHER-CHOP pattern will produce one MOS image out of the dithered pattern at each CHOP location on the sky.

Each MOS image is created as follows. 1) The relative offsets between images within the mosaic are computed from their WCS information. The first image in the list for each mosaic is used as a reference image; the offsets of all others are computed relative to the reference image. 2) The computed offsets are refined using a cross-correlation technique. This is the same technique used to align the NUM_ITER images at individual pattern positions (see above). The computed offsets are printed to the screen during processing. Note: The offsets for DARK and FLAT images are set to zero so that these images will be aligned and combined in pixel space. 3) An empty mosaic image is created with x and y dimensions large enough to encompass the maximum offsets in each direction. 4) Pixel values in the mosaic image are computed by combining samples from overlapping images. The individual images are aligned using bilinear interpolation and the value at a given MOS pixel location is computed from the error-weighted mean of the samples at that location. Samples flagged as bad are excluded and, if 3 or more samples are present, iterative sigma-clipping is used to reject remaining outliers. The number of samples retained for a given pixel and their total integration time is recorded in the MOS SAMP and TIME images. If all samples are rejected for a pixel, the MOS image SCI, ERR, SAMP, and TIME values are set to zero and a combination of all DQ flags is retained.

If the task parameter readoffsets=yes, then steps 1) and 2) above are skipped, and the image offsets read from the input association table are used instead.

The output ASC table contains the 3 columns of information from the input ASN table, as well as 4 new columns of information derived during processing. The 4 new columns are named "BCKIMAGE", "MEANBCK", "XOFFSET", and "YOFFSET". The BCKIMAGE column contains boolean flags indicating whether or not a given association image was used in the computation of the scalar background. The MEANBCK column contains the mean background value (in units of DN/second) computed for each image. The XOFFSET and YOFFSET columns contain the pixel offsets computed for each image relative to its reference image. Offsets are in the sense that a positive value indicates that the image frame (not sources) is shifted in the positive axis direction relative to its reference.

The constant background signal level that was subtracted from all images is recorded in the ASC table header keyword "MEAN_BKG".


1. Create mosaics for the association "n3t102010". The input ASN table is in file "n3t102010_asn.fits":

  ni> calnicb n3t102010

2. Create mosaics for the association images listed in "n3uw01010_asn.fits", performing the scalar background subtraction by using the values computed for each individual image, rather than the mean of all images:

  ni> calnicb n3uw01010_asn.fits meanbkg-

3. Rerun calnicb on the association n3gx32030, using the table "n3gx32030_new.fits" as input, which is a new version of the table "n3gx32030_asc.fits" produced by a previous run of calnicb, with modified image offsets, having calnicb use these offsets rather than computing them:

  ni> calnicb n3gx32030_new.fits readoff+


Version 2.3.1
Bug fix that was causing data in the BCKIMAGE, MEANBCK, XOFFSET, and YOFFSET columns of the output "asc" table to be written as "INDEF" if an input "asn" table was used that already had any one or more of these columns defined.
Version 2.3
Modified to update and populate the DATAMIN and DATAMAX keywords in output "mos" file extension headers. Modified to accept use of new universal pattern keywords in headers of reprocessed data sets.
Version 2.2.1
Modification of internal library interface.
Version 2.2
Implemented use of the new task parameters subbkg, meanbkg, readbkg, readoffsets, crthresh, and xcwin. Modified all routines that compute scalar image values (e.g. the source finding and background computation routines) to compute the median, rather than the mean image value. Implemented special handling for the new ZEROSIG and GROT DQ flag values. The ZEROSIG value is considered to be a warning only and data are not rejected. Pixels with the GROT flag set, however, are rejected during image combining. Switched the order of processing so that sources are identified before any image combining, so that the cross-correlation routine can use the source-flagged pixels. Added computation of output image median statistics to populate the new image header keywords GOODMEDN, QAMEDN, QBMEDN, QCMEDN, and QDMEDN.
Version 2.1.2
Modified the cross-correlation routine to trap input pixel values that would cause arithmetic overflows.



Author: Howard Bushouse, Science Software Group, STScI

The following additional references are available from STScI and the NICMOS instrument group and describe in more detail the NICMOS calibration process and general usage of STSDAS:

	"The STScI NICMOS Pipeline: CALNICB, Reduction of Image
		Associations", Instrument Science Report NICMOS-029
        "HST Data Handbook"
        "NICMOS Instrument Handbook"
        "STSDAS Users Guide"
        "Phase II Proposal Instructions"

The following are technical references meant for internal usage and are not written as "end-user" products. However, these documents can be retrieved if a detailed understanding of the instrument is required.

The reference tables and images are controlled by CM. The document describing the contents and form of the reference data is "Post Observation Data Processing System to Calibration Database System Interface Control Document", (ICD-47).

The header keywords found in the data files are controlled by CM. The document describing the keywords is "Post Observation Data Processing System to Space Telescope Science Data Analysis Software Interface Control Document", (ICD-19).


tprint, tupar, calnica

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