Introduction to Pandeia for Roman

Simulated high-redshift galaxy with a superimposed supernova
Simulated high-redshift galaxy with a superimposed supernova.

Pandeia is the Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) system developed for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). It's based on a Python engine that calculates three-dimensional data cubes from user-specified spatial and spectral properties of one or more sources. The cubes are projected to a detector plane given an instrument configuration and two-dimensional pixel-by-pixel signal and noise properties are extracted. This allows for appropriate handling of realistic point spread functions (as calculated by WebbPSF), MULTIACCUM detector readouts, correlated detector readnoise, dithering, and multiple photometric and spectroscopic extraction strategies. Pandeia includes support for a variety of observing modes and has a highly modular, data-driven design that allows for easy extensibility to other instruments and telescopes.

This extensibility has been applied to create an implementation for the Wide Field Instrument (WFI) of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope as it is currently prototyped. Download instructions and a tutorial notebook are available from GitHub.

STScI Roman Tools



Pandeia is designed to perform high-fidelity modeling of a small, representative portion of a detector image and to allow for extensive parameter space investigations. This typically small "postage-stamp" field of view is referred to as the "scene" and is composed of one or more astronomical sources. The size of the scene is dynamic and can in principle be arbitrarily large. However, because of the detail involved in the calculations Pandeia performs, calculations for very large scenes are not currently supported. STIPS is the more appropriate tool for simulating full fields of view.

Pandeia supports both point and extended sources. Extended sources are modeled by a Sérsic surface brightness profile with major/minor axis scale lengths, a position angle, and a Sérsic index. A variety of source spectra are available for use, including power-law, blackbody, stars (via a grid of PHOENIX models), HST calibration sources, and integrated spectra of a range extragalactic objects (via Brown et al. (2014)). It is also possible to add emission and absorption lines to a spectrum as well as input custom spectra. Normalization of source flux is accomplished by providing a flux density (e.g., mJy or AB mag) at a specific wavelength or a magnitude in a specific bandpass (e.g., SDSS z).

The output of a Pandeia calculation provides two-dimensional signal-to-noise maps as well as extracted flux and signal-to-noise products that are defined by a flux extraction strategy. For Roman Space Telescope imaging, this consists of aperture photometry with a circular source aperture and annular background estimation region. 



The Pandeia engine has been developed to be data driven and flexible enough to support multiple missions. Thus, while the majority of the Pandeia documentation written to date has been written for the JWST implementation of Pandeia, the same computations are performed on Roman data, and the same functionalities for setting up calculations, including source and scene creation, are available. Pontoppidan et al. (2016) describes the general approach, features, and design of Pandeia. Users may also find it helpful to review the JWST documentation for an overview of the features and functionality of the Pandeia engine and an explanation of the quantities calculated by Pandeia.

The Pandeia engine and Roman data package is available for download and installation on the user's own computer via PyPI (the Python Package Index). To aid users interested in getting started with STScI’s simulation tools for Roman, including the Roman implementation of Pandeia, we have written tutorial Jupyter notebooks, available from GitHub. The introductory notebook contains examples and documentation about how to customize the calculation inputs and analyze the outputs. 

The Roman Pandeia functionality is still in development. The present implementation is available to the community as a beta version.


Assumptions and Caveats

Pandeia functionality in general and its Roman functionality in particular is still in continued development. The present implementation is available to the community as a beta version.

The Roman Mission is in development and observatory designs continue to evolve. Hence, Pandeia simulations may not accurately reflect the actual future observatory.

At this stage the model for the WFI makes several assumptions and approximations:

  • The Pandeia Roman WFI model is based on the Phase C payload design and incorporates information from the GSFC Instrument Reference Information files.
  • PSFs are obtained using the WebbPSF software for a notional point within the WFI field-of-view. The field-dependence of the PSF is not currently accounted for within Pandeia.
  • Pandeia currently uses a single Quantum Efficiency curve representative of the set of flight detectors. Differences between detectors can account for 5-10% differences in throughput. 
  • The filter transmission for broadband PSF and Pandeia calculations is assumed to be flat across the filter bandpass.
  • The instrument modes, including details such as available readout patterns and subarray configurations, are modeled after JWST's NIRCam instrument (including the NIRCam imaging and grism modes).


Credits, Acknowledgements, and Feedback

Pandeia is developed by the ETC team at STScI.

Users are encouraged to address questions, suggestions, and bug reports to with "Pandeia-Roman question" in the subject line. The message will be directed to the appropriate members of the Pandeia-Roman team at STScI.


Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope insignia

The NASA Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is managed by NASA/GSFC with participation of STScI, Caltech/IPAC, and NASA/JPL.

Contact the Roman Team