FM11: JWST – Launch, Commissioning, and Cycle 1 Science

JWST Science Themes

JWST will make observations that could revolutionise nearly every discipline within astronomy. Each of the hexagons in this graphic, which is shaped like the telescope’s segmented primary mirror, represents a field that could be advanced with the telescope. (STScI)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled for launch in 2021, is expected to revolutionise our understanding of the near- to mid-infrared sky by enabling observations with an unprecedented combination of superb angular resolution and exquisite sensitivity. Since JWST is a general-purpose observatory, its scientific success depends on the broader scientific community to make new discoveries. The 2018 IAU General Assembly provides an important international platform for the broader community to learn about plans for commissioning and Cycle 1 Science and what to expect in the near future for JWST.

Focus Meeting 11 will highlight the science that will be enabled by JWST early in its life cycle and touch on commissioning, Early Release Science (ERS), Guaranteed Time Observer (GTO) programmes, and General Observer (GO) programmes slated for Cycle 1. Members of the design teams for the four JWST science instruments — Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), and Fine Guidance Sensor/Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS) — will discuss the science potential of their instruments. Keynote speakers include Nobel Laureate John Mather, IAU President-Elect Ewine F. van Dishoeck, Newcomb Cleveland Prize winner René Doyon, and ESA Director of Science Günther Hasinger.

Talks and discussion sessions aimed at the broad science topics enabled by JWST will feature contributions drawn from the entire astronomical community. Given the cross-disciplinary and international nature of JWST’s mission, this Focus Meeting will present an ideal opportunity to discuss the science that will be enabled with JWST in the near-term.

JWST Group Photo

Engineers pose by the James Webb Space Telescope shortly after it emerged from its thermal vacuum test in Chamber A at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on 1 December 2017. (NASA/Chris Gunn)

Key topics include:

  • The scientific prospects for JWST: our Solar System to the edge of the Universe.
  • Solar System science with JWST: the surfaces of asteroids to the atmospheres of giant planets.
  • Exoplanet science with JWST: the birth of planets to the search for life.
  • Galactic science with JWST: star birth to death, and everything in-between.
  • Extragalactic science with JWST: nearby galaxies to first light.
  • JWST for all astronomers: Cycle 1 Science and future opportunities.
  • JWST’s four remarkable instruments and their unique science capabilities.
  • Ensuring the science yield of JWST through pre-launch testing and post-launch commissioning and calibration.

For more information about the session and its agenda, please visit the FM11 website

Bonnie MeinkeBONNIE MEINKE is a deputy project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope at the Space Telescope Science Institute, the science operations center for Hubble and Webb. Her scientific research has focussed on the Saturn system: observing rings, discovering the building blocks of moons and puzzling over geysers on Enceladus.