JWST @ STScI Update
Updates on JWST mission, communication channels, call for proposals and other pertinent information.
Working in conjunction with the JWST Project at Goddard and the JWST Users Committee (JSTUC), STScI has developed new outline for the Cycle 1 proposal process.
Institute staff continues work toward supporting science operations with Webb. The S&OC software package version 2.0 was delivered to NASA, and new versions of the suite of user tools are available for proposal planning. The launch delay of Webb led to a delay of the GO cycle 1 proposal deadline to no earlier than February 1, 2019.
The Webb Integration and Test Program is working hard to bring the ground system and the flight hardware, including the Science Instruments, Integrated Science Instrument Module, and Optical Telescope Element together for the mission. This article summarizes the milestones successfully reached thus far by the OED I&T team, and we highlight the upcoming activities leading up to the launch of Webb.
Like the rest of the Institute, excitement is building in the Office of Public Outreach (OPO) as the clock winds down for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
Traditionally, every few years, ESA organizes a high visibility scientific conference in Europe with the goal to give the Hubble user community an opportunity to gather, share their latest scientific results and discuss topics of common interest.
Exoplanet researchers are counting down the days until the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb will transform our ability to unveil the atmospheres of planets transiting close to their parent stars.
Nearly 30 years ago Riccardo Giacconi, then the Institute Director, challenged Peter Stockman (Research Branch Head) and me (Deputy Director) to “think about the next major mission beyond Hubble.”
The integration and testing of the James Webb Space Telescope is on schedule for a nominal October 2018 launch, and recently its beautiful mirror assembly was revealed in the clean room.
The Frontier Fields program is the latest chapter in Hubble’s hallowed tradition of deep-field initiatives.
The JSTAC’s role, distilling its charge down to a key phrase, is to advise the Institute Director on “maximizing JWST’s scientific productivity” during its operational life.
After its launch, Webb will provide access to near- and mid-infrared wavelengths at unparalleled sensitivity and resolution. Meantime, Hubble continues to stand as the prime space observatory at visual and ultraviolet wavelengths.
JSTAC's charge in advising the STScI Director can be distilled down to: "maximizing JWST's scientific productivity." This article focuses on the question of the length of the proprietary time for JWST. JSTAC's role is just to make recommendations for STScI to take into consideration in its decisions, and in discussions with NASA and the JWST partner agencies. The discussion in this article reflects the views and recommendations of JSTAC, and should not be considered to be STScI views or policy.
As Webb's Science and Operations Center, the Institute is responsible for helping to educate the scientific community about observatory performance and operations, as well as calibration plans and assisting the community in designing and implementing scientific programs.
An overview of the JSTAC's activities and recommendations over the seven years since the JSTAC was formed was in teh 2016, Volume 33, Issue 1 of the STScI newsletter. One of its primary issues is the framework for the Cycle 1 Call for Proposals.
For Webb, a single-stream process for proposal submission has been adopted because maximizing the scientific return from the telescope requires that the community have the ability to utilize it as efficiently as possible.
To realize Webb’s full science potential, the scientific community must rapidly learn to use its sophisticated capabilities.
All users of Webb will need to craft proposals that describe their desired observations in sufficient detail to permit the ultimate scheduling of the observations once the proposals are accepted.
Webb offers a broad range of observing modes covering a wide wavelength range from the optical to the mid-infrared (0.6 to 28.5 microns), offering unprecedented photometric and spectroscopic performance to enable a broad range of astronomical science.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be equipped with a suite of coronagraphs allowing observers to hunt for faint point sources or extended structures around bright stars and galaxies.
NIRCam hardware testing and science-support development have progressed significantly since the last 2011 update that appeared in the STScI Newsletter.
The development, integration, and testing of Webb hardware and software systems continued in 2015, and the project remains on schedule and budget for its October 2018 launch.
Hubble has already led in the exploration of several fundamental aspects of core-collapse supernovae, but much of their nature, with respect to what types of stars explode and how they explode, remains unclear.
There are a number of open and exciting questions for us to address with z ≳ 9 galaxies in the coming decade. The launch and first light of Webb will mark the beginning of a new era in our study of such high-redshift galaxies.
Vulcanism on Jupiter’s moon, Io, presents a solar system science opportunity for the AMI mode of Webb's NIRISS. Precise determinations of the positions of unresolved volcanic eruptions will be possible.
Characterizing planets orbiting stars beyond the sun—exoplanets—is one of the scientific frontiers pioneered using Hubble observation. When Webb becomes operational, the current Hubble results will be expanded to an astonishing degree.
The James Webb Space Telescope’s Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph will offer a number of innovative observing modes, including single-object slitless spectroscopy.
Webb’s NIRISS instrument has a non-redundant mask in its pupil wheel which enables aperture-masking interferometry (AMI), a high-resolution, moderate-contrast imaging technique.
The Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) will be the workhorse instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope for near-infrared spectroscopy. It will offer three spectral bands, with a choice of both medium- and high-resolution gratings. A low-resolution prism will also be available. NIRSpec will feature astronomy’s first space-based, multi-object spectroscopic capability, using micro-shutter arrays.
Decades of observations in the IR and other wavelengths, using both space- and ground-based facilities, have vastly increased our understanding of how star formation evolves in galaxies, and how it is related to a galaxy’s general characteristics.
Three factors will make Webb exquisitely suitable for detecting the faintest and furthest galaxies, and for charting the history of their assembly: its large aperture compared with Hubble, its superb infrared (IR) detectors, and the dark IR sky background at its operating location, the second Lagrange point, L2.
Across the country, teams of highly skilled engineers and technicians are building the backbone of the mighty James Webb Space Telescope.
The Webb’s Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) will offer several innovative observing modes, one of which is wide-field slitless spectroscopy (WFSS).
With its large aperture and infrared spectroscopic capability, Webb will open opportunities to study planets as small as terrestrial size (transiting small stars), taking us far beyond current studies of exoplanet atmospheres.
With its exquisite sensitivity, high angular resolution, and moderate spectral resolution, the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the James Webb Space Telescope will open new windows into many facets of the universe, including the processes by which planetary systems form and evolve.
We launched a new project, bringing Webb—literally—to where tens of thousands of people would gather: South by Southwest (SXSW)—an annual festival in Austin, Texas.
The James Webb Space Telescope will peer into the depths of space and back in time to reveal the earliest epochs of our universe, but it also will look at the Solar System for clues to how planets form and evolve with time.
The launch date for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope may be several years away, but students and educators in New York and California are already exploring the challenges engineers face in designing, building, and testing the future infrared observatory.
The Webb teams from the Institute, Goddard Space Flight Center, and the instrument developers recently completed simulating the scientific program of the observatory, called the Science Operations Design Reference Mission (SODRM 2012).
The summer of 2012 saw the Webb program achieve several major milestones, including the delivery of two of the four science instruments from international partners to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Last July, the Canadian Space Agency reluctantly decided to discontinue work on the Tunable Filter Imager for Webb. In its place, CSA is providing a new science instrument that enhances the capabilities of the Webb observatory while also being simpler to build and operate.
After major changes in 2011, the Webb project enters 2012 with a new plan. A 2010 independent assessment of the project status, schedule, and budget found several major concerns, and NASA took steps to address each of them.
Nearly 200 astronomers from around the world gathered to critically review the science potential of JWST. The meeting also provided an opportunity to educate the next generation of astronomers about the role that JWST is expected to play in addressing the top science questions outlined by the recent decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics.
JWST is the immediate future of NASA’s flagship missions. In its near- and mid-infrared wavelength domain, JWST is orders of magnitude more powerful than the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope.
In addition to serving as a powerful imager for the JWST core science goals, NIRCam also plays a key role as a facility instrument. NIRCam will perform the wave-front sensing functions needed to keep the primary-mirror segments—and in general, the entire telescope optical train—properly aligned.
The scientific case for JWST grows stronger as the technical progress of the mission reaches new heights and gets key milestones behind us. However, its management and budget travails come at a difficult time for our community.
Anticipating that a variety of important Webb science programs will rely on high-quality flux calibrations, Institute staff are developing a set of stellar spectral energy distributions to facilitate the transfer of the flux calibration to Webb science targets.
As we plan operations for the James Webb Space Telescope, we are drawing on the Hubble experience to ensure the efficient selection of guide stars to stabilize Webb's pointing.
More than 60 astronomers attended the Institute's workshop "IFUs in the Era of JWST, which offered discussions of IFS techniques, instrument development, 3D data viewing and analysis, and new scientific results.
I see committed engineers and scientists struggling to work at the edge of the impossible. I see a community willing to take risks on behalf of science, so we can extend the scientific frontiers and do things no one has done before. I see that building a state-of-the-art machine for science is in the end an inherently complex and tremendously imperfect human endeavor. In the end, someone has to provide “the next Hubble" to the next generation. If not us, then who?
Ten years ago, the 2000 decadal survey gave the Webb its top priority, and Astro 2010 did not re-rank it. Correspondingly, the Astro 2010 results amply confirm that Webb’s unique capabilities are essential to the freshly framed scientific agenda.
Webb's very versatile Mid-Infrared Instrument will offer imaging through various filters, coronagraphs, and low- and medium resolution spectroscopy. MIRI is taking shape; its assembly and thermal-vacuum testing will take place this year.
All optical elements of Webb's optical telescope element are in advanced stages of production. Once assembled and launched, an elaborate process of wavefront sensing and control will be used to co-phase the primary mirror segments and achieve diffraction-limited performance at a wavelength of 2 microns.
While development of the James Webb Space Telescope is in full swing, important components of the observatory—and the mission itself—recently passed major reviews.
By passing three milestones in 2008, the James Webb Space Telescope continued its progress toward launch in 2013.
The Institute’s Webb Science and Operations Center (S&OC) has begun developing the software systems to operate the observatory. The design and implementation of the systems to process proposals and plan observations are the long-lead items with highest priority.
On July 10, 2008, NASA confirmed the James Webb Space Telescope, marking the project’s formal transition from the formulation phase to the implementation phase.
Even though the Hubble and Webb science missions may overlap, astronomers would be wise to assume that the overlap will be brief, and they should consider the implications for Webb science programs.
Just before Christmas 2007, the verification model (VM) of the Webb Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI) started thermal-vacuum testing at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the United Kingdom.
The Webb workshop, which was held September 24–27, drew almost 200 participants to Tucson, to hear twenty speakers and moderators discuss the directions of their fields in the next decade, and how future facilities would advance their goals.
On March 23, 2007, the non-advocate review team (NRT) reported to NASA Headquarters that its late-January review of technology for the James Webb Space Telescope had successfully met its objectives.
NASA's Webb project and the Institute will co-host an international scientific meeting entitled “Astrophysics in the Next Decade: JWST and Concurrent Facilities.”
As scientific stewards for the James Webb Space Telescope, the members of the Science Working Group (SWG) are striving to ensure this facility meets the diverse needs of the astronomical community.
In summer 2005, the Webb project focused on resolving a budget crisis due to the rising costs of integration and test and the delays in approving the launch by Ariane.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Optical Telescope Element (OTE) continues to meet its schedule goals as the program begins fabrication of the flight optics.
On March 9, 2004, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) data were released to the astronomical community. What can we learn from the HUDF that might apply to similar observing programs that might be planned for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)?
With James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in the Phase B portion of its development, the JWST partners are refining the detailed design of the observatory and its science instruments.
Spurred by a better understanding of the mission costs and available funding, NASA management began an end-to-end examination of the program in November 2002. The ‘replan’ teams involved members from all the development partners and the recently selected Science Working Group (SWG).
In the last six months, NASA has selected all major James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) partners, including the prime contractor, the instrument teams, and the Science Working Group (SWG). The JWST project is currently going through a re-plan activity to make sure that all designs and ideas are well matched and that the whole project fits within the budget profile.