sci23002 — Announcement

Reflections from the JWST Users Committee

2 May 2023

-Stephane Charlot (Institut d’astrophysique de Paris)-

As I write I have just finished my term as a NIRSpec team and ESA representative on the JWST Users Committee (JSTUC). My time on the committee has spanned the intense and remarkable work by all those involved in the project ahead of the launch and during commissioning, and into the tremendously exciting first nine months of science operations. Having attended the First Science Results from JWST Conference at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in December, it was simply incredible to see the impact of this fantastic new observatory across a broad range of topics in just its first few months of operations.

The JSTUC was established to provide user advice to the observatory to maximise its scientific performance. The committee meets at least twice a year, typically with a range of presentations over two days on the status of the observatory, news from each of the science instruments, updates from the partner agencies (including ESA), and topical matters for discussion; copies of the presentations from each meeting are publicly available from the JSTUC page.

As we settle into regular science operations, the JSTUC will be an important forum for discussion of topics such as: the provision and prioritisation of new capabilities/modes, the policies regarding Exclusive Access Periods, details of the future science timeline for proposals, and more. The reports from each meeting are addressed to the STScI Director and the JWST Senior Project Scientist, and are also fed back into the various ESA science programme committees; it is clear that our input is taken seriously and taken into consideration in future planning and decisions within the ESA/NASA/CSA partnership.

As a user committee, the JSTUC serves as a link between the project and the European community. To fulfil this role, it is important that it receives feedback from you, the community. The current ESA JSTUC representatives are Kalliopi Dasyra (University of Athens) and Dominika Wylezalek (University of Heidelberg). If you, the users in any ESA Member State, have any concerns related to the use of JWST, let me encourage you to contact our representatives, who can then raise issues for discussion by the committee.

While the breathtaking discoveries of JWST produce amazing scientific advances every day, and the Hubble Space Telescope continues to valiantly collect spectacular observations in the complementary ultraviolet and optical domains, a revolution is brewing at these wavelengths with the prospect of the future Habitable Worlds Observatory (HWO). The excitement is not going to fade away, and incredible moments await us in the months, years, and decades to come, in which I hope the ESA community will continue to play a prominent role.


Chris Evans
ESA/HST & ESA/JWST Project Scientist
ESA Office, STScI Baltimore, USA

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