sci20008 — Announcement

First Steps Towards Designing the JWST Cycle 1 Science Programme

18 December 2020

Antonella Nota (ESA/HST & ESA/JWST Project Scientist)

The JWST Cycle 1 proposal deadline closed on 24 November 24, with an extension to 3 December for exceptional COVID-related reasons. After the deadline, it is always exciting to learn how many proposals have been submitted, as that is the first direct measure of the community interest in the mission. JWST has been affected by several delays but enthusiasm returned high when the launch window was announced: October 2021!  

We had a lot of momentum at the beginning of the year, with the ESAC Master Class in February and the subsequent Master Class Workshops, attended by approximately 600 people all over Europe. But then the COVID pandemic struck. We had to put on hold our thoroughly planned “Science with the Hubble and James Webb  Space Telescope VI” and all related Hubble 30 Anniversary activities. The Master Class workshops were promptly moved online, but everything slowed down because of the pandemic.

Because of all of this, it was very encouraging to see that 1173 JWST proposals were received, requesting a total of ~ 24 500 hours. This number is even more impressive when one considers that JWST proposal submission is single stream, thus combining what Hubble users know as Phase I and Phase II information together. Translated into plain English, it means it is a lot more work for the proposer to submit, as every observation detail must be worked out and presented. JWST proposals are also dual anonymous, like Hubble, so extra care has to be taken to make sure that the proposals are compliant with the dual anonymous rules.

The most impressive number, for us, was the European engagement. 374 proposals were submitted by a PI in a ESA member state, a remarkable 31.9% of the total.

As a comparison, in Hubble Cycle 28 there were 1080 submissions, of which 213 from ESA member states (~ 20%), so JWST European based submissions increased significantly, indicating that a new segment of the European astronomical community got involved, coming not from the traditional Hubble base, but likely from Herschel or ALMA.

With respect to Hubble, JWST submissions overall reflected a younger demographic (calculated as years from PhD) and a higher female percentage amongst PIs (31.5% compared to 28.5% for Hubble Cycle 28). In Figure 1, we show the geographical distribution of proposal submissions. With small exceptions, the distribution matches well the geographical coverage of the Master Class Workshops, indicating that our collective effort to create geographically distributed areas of JWST knowledge in Europe was successful and must be sustained. Another important factor in this submission success, is the capillary network of the European institutions that have been involved in the development of NIRSPEC and especially MIRI, through the European Consortium. In Figure 2, we show the impressive map of all European institutions  that contributed to the JWST program. Our collective gratitude to all who have  created interest and disseminated knowledge about this extraordinary mission. The European community is ready to do JWST science!

The JWST Cycle 1 Time Allocation Committee is scheduled for 16–19 February (galactic panel), 23–26 February (extragalactic) and 1–4 March (Executive Committee), and results will be known soon thereafter. With the time available in Cycle 1 (6000 hrs), the oversubscription is 4:1 for small proposals, and 5:1 for medium, large and treasury programmes, reflecting JWST’s ability, at L2, to observe almost full-time, and the fantastic sensitivity of the observatory. 

To all of you who have submitted a JWST proposal, you have a fighting chance of being successful. Wishing you all good luck and JWST data! And for those of you who have decided to wait this cycle out, you will have plenty of opportunity to look at JWST data too, as Early Release Observations will be made available in the JWST archive as soon as they are released. 

And we are all collectively looking forward to seeing the amazing science that the JWST observatory will do. We can’t wait.


Antonella Nota
ESA/HST & ESA/JWST Project Scientist
STScI Baltimore, USA

About the Announcement



JWST Cycle 1 Proposal Submissions Received by Country
JWST Cycle 1 Proposal Submissions Received by Country
Europe’s Contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope
Europe’s Contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope

Privacy policy Accelerated by CDN77