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JWST Cycle 1 proposers are encourage to follow this checklist for writing and submitting proposals for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). 

(tick) Know the deadlines

Based on recommendations made by the JWST Standing Review Board, NASA is re-scheduling JWST’s launch window for 2020. Given those circumstances, STScI will delay the Cycle 1 GO/AR proposal deadline until no earlier than February 1 2019

A revised proposal schedule will be developed in consultation with the JWST Users Committee, the JWST Project and representatives from the European and Canadian Space Agencies. Proposals already submitted in response to the Cycle 1 Call will not be carried over and will need to be resubmitted.


(tick) Read the JWST ERS Call for Proposals and Related Policies

JWST Director's Discretionary Early Release Science Call for Proposals

JWST General Science Policies

(tick) Read the JWST User Documentation

JWST User Documentation Home Page 

JWST Observatory and Instrumentation Documentation

   JWST Observatory Overview

   Mid-Infrared Instrument, MIRI

   Near Infrared Camera, NIRCAM

   Near Infrared Spectrograph, NIRSpec

   Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph, NIRISS

JWST Observation Planning Documentation


(tick) Learn the JWST observation planning tools. 

  • JWST Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) – The JWST ETC is a web-based tool for estimating how much exposure (science) time will be required for different JWST instrument modes and configurations to achieve the desired science goals.  Users may save and share their calculations in workbooks.

  • Astronomer's Proposal Tool (APT) –  APT is a stand-alone software package required for preparing JWST observations and submitting JWST Cycle 1 Early Release Science and General Observer proposals. Training material on APT can be found The JWST NIRSpec MSA Planning Tool, JWST Visit Planner, and Aladin visualization tool are included in APT.  Download APT software here

  • JWST Target Visibility Tools  – The entire sky is available to JWST observations, but not all at the same time. Any targets needing observation at a particular time, time separation, or aperture position angle on the sky may have significantly constrained visibility or even be unschedulable. There is a simple tool to perform a quick assessment of schedulability of proposal targets prior to developing an APT proposal.   There are also more specialized tools to help users plan coronagraphy observations and Pre-imaging observations for NIRSpec MOS mode.

  • WebbPSF – Stand-alone software calculates the JWST Point Spread Function for a range of instrument modes and assumptions. The engine behind WebbPSF, however, is already integrated into the JWST ETC, and so accessing the separate tool may be unnecessary for most users. Download WebbPSF here.

(tick) Design a JWST observing program in APT

  • Download and install the latest version of APT. (APT v25.1, available June 1 2017, or APT v25.2, available June 20, should be used to submit DD ERS proposals)
  • Create a New JWST proposal in APT and fill out the Proposal Information section
  • Enter your target or targets  
  • Create a new Observation Folder and a new Observation with an observation template  or with the NIRSpec MSA Planning Tool. 
  • View an Observation with the Aladin visualizer tool. 
  • Run the Visit Planner for one or more Observations. 
  • When all observations have been entered and run successfully through the Visit Planner, run Smart Accounting for the full proposal to compute your total time allocation request. 
  • Check for duplicate observations with the list of approved GTO observations.
  • Resolve any errors and warning in APT.
  • In some cases it may not be possible to fully specify a proposal at the time of submission (e.g. to resolve all errors and warnings in APT). Proposals that may be exempted from the nominal single-stream process will be described in the special submission requirements section of each call for proposals.   

(tick) Write your science proposal (the PDF attachment)

The PDF attachment, i.e., the proposal narrative and a preliminary budget template, includes a number of required text sections such as the Scientific Justification, the Description of Observations, and the Rationale for DD ERS selection.

(tick) Submit your JWST proposal.

  • Attach the PDF of your scientific proposal to the APT program on Proposal Information form.
  • Preview the entire proposal by selecting the APT PDF Preview tool. This view will merge the information provided in APT along with the PDF attachment, and is what the Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC) will review. 
  • Submit your completed proposal with APT. Select the APT Submission Tool in the top tool bar and follow the instructions.  In the Submission Log window you will see a message giving the time of the submission, the assigned proposal ID (if a new proposal), and the submission status.
  • After the initial submission, proposals can be re-submitted as needed (up to the stated deadline).

(tick) Wait. 

After you submit your proposal, the PI and all CoIs will receive an automatic email acknowledgment that the submission was received successfully. If you do not receive an acknowledgement within 48 hours of the deadline, please contact the STScI Help Desk as your submission was NOT RECEIVED and the TAC WILL NOT see your proposal; please provide the submission ID information from the APT Submission Log window. If there are any problems associated with your PDF attachment, you will be contacted by email separately.

Notification of your proposal's status (approved or rejected) generally occurs within 2-3 weeks of the Telescope Allocation Committee meeting. 

(tick) Next steps for approved programs

U.S. investigators with approved JWST programs are eligible for funding. Refer to JWST DD ERS Funding and Institutional Endorsement for details on funding policies, eligibility, and budgets.

 Successful JWST observing proposals will be reviewed by a STScI contact scientist and program coordinator.    Programs may require adjustments or revisions; in particular, the final version of each program will be submitted via APT v25.4, available on November 1 2017. The Contact Scientist and Program Coordinator will iterate with proposers to finalize the observations in accordance with the TAC recommendations, under the approval of the STScI Director.

Next: JWST DD ERS Program Goals, Project Updates, and Status Reviews 



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