JWST Example Science Programs

Example science programs, available to prospective JWST proposers, provide a walk-through of all the elements in creating a JWST observing program, from posing a question, to identifying instrument-specific modes optimized for science goals, to using proposal preparation tools needed to create a valid proposal. 

All example science programs presented below were constructed prior to launch.

A few examples have been updated to include content based on Cycle 3 versions of ETC and APT but most other examples remain unchanged. Therefore, details contained in these examples (such as exposure parameter specifications or achieved S/N values, etc.) may be different than those produced by the updated ETC and APT tools available post-launch. However, they are still judged to provide good guidance for the process of going from a science use case to a finished proposal, by way of running the ETC and preparing an APT file for submission.  

Due to ongoing development of ETC and APT, you may see minor differences in the GUI appearance when compared to screen shots in the example articles. Also, the detailed results produced by the current ETC will be different from those described in these examples because on-orbit sensitivities have been updated from pre-launch expectations. Hence, while details may be different, these examples are still deemed useful for training purposes.

On this page

The example science programs listed in Table 1 are actual worked proposal examples for a number of JWST instruments, modes, and combinations of instruments. They are written as step-by-step guides to follow along, and will serve as a useful reference when crafting your own proposals.

These examples each include a description of the program, along with step-by-step guides to using Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) workbooks and Astronomers Proposal Tool (APT) files. Descriptions provide background on the science goals of each program and also walk through some of the technical decision-making steps in crafting realistic programs. ETC workbooks and filled-out APT files for the examples are available within each of those tools from a pull-down menu (see below).  

Note the program reference numbers in the first column; they provides a numerical ID that ties together the description, ETC, and APT components of an example, as well as other relevant JDox articles.

With the availability of public domain APT files and actual JWST data in the MAST archive, we expect many proposers may use these materials as examples going forward.  However, users may still find the descriptive materials provided in these examples a useful supplement for understanding the process of moving from a scientific use case to a finished proposal.

Example science programs by instrument

Table 1. Example science programs

Program reference #

Prime instrument(s) and template(s)

Parallel instrument and template (if any)

Example science program title (links go to the relevant articles)





MIRI MRS Spectroscopy of a Late M Star

(See other MIRI examples in the Multi-instrument section.)



NIRCam Imaging

MIRI Imaging

NIRCam Deep Field Imaging with MIRI Imaging Parallels

29NIRCam TIme-Series---

NIRCam Time-Series Imaging of HAT-P-18 b

30NIRCam Grism Time-Series---

NIRCam Grism Time-Series Observations of GJ 436b

37NIRCam WFSS---

NIRCam WFSS Deep Galaxy Observations





NIRISS AMI Observations of Extrasolar Planets Around a Host Star




NIRISS SOSS Time-Series Observations of WASP-39



NIRCam Imaging

NIRISS WFSS with NIRCam Parallel Imaging of Galaxies in Lensing Clusters


25NIRSpec MOS---

NIRSpec MOS Deep Extragalactic Survey

32NIRSpec BOTS---

NIRSpec BOTS Observations of WASP-79b




NIRSpec IFU and Fixed Slit Observations of Near Earth Asteroids -- Moving Target Example






MIRI MRS and NIRSpec IFU Observations of Cassiopeia A





MIRI MRS and NIRSpec IFU Observations of SN1987A


MIRI Coronagraphy,

NIRCam Coronagraphy


MIRI and NIRCam Coronagraphy of the Beta Pictoris Debris Disk


MIRI Coronagraphy,

NIRCam Coronagraphy


NIRCam and MIRI Coronagraphy of HR 8799 b

Each of the example science programs linked above also links to two step-by-step guide articles, one for creating the ETC information and the other for creating a valid APT file. The actual example ETC workbooks and APT files for each program are available from within each tool, as described below.

Accessing ETC workbooks and APT files for the example science programs

Words in bold are GUI menus/
panels or data software packages; 
bold italics are buttons in GUI
tools or package parameters.

Each example science program has an attendant ETC workbook and APT file that can be used for reference as you work through each example. The relevant ETC workbooks are available within the ETC itself. A tab in the ETC GUI allows access to a drop-down menu that shows the example science program workbooks with the same titles and reference numbers shown in Table 1. Select the example workbook of interest and add it to your personal list of ETC workbooks to access the contents as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Accessing ETC workbooks for example science programs

In the ETC GUI, select the Example Science Program Workbooks tab (arrow 1) and then select an example workbook of interest (in this example, #22). That workbook then becomes available for your use, but is assigned a unique new ID number (arrow 2). Once you load this notebook, you can read it to follow along with the example program description, or edit it further as you like.

Likewise, the filled-out APT files for each example science program are available to users within APT and can be loaded as follows: from the top File menu, select the tab for JWST Example Science Programs and choose the APT file with the same title and reference number as the program you are interested in. (See Figure 2.) 

Figure 2. Accessing APT example science program files in APT

From APT, you can retrieve the APT files for any example science program by accessing the top File pull-down menu and selecting JWST Example Science Programs. Then, slide right to select a category and a particular program of interest. Note that, unlike the ETC case, APT treats these example programs as if they are previously accepted programs. While you can edit them to experiment, you should use the Copy and Paste functions in the Edit menu to transfer any work you want to keep to a new proposal file.

Latest updates

  • Added red warning box at top to highlight dated nature of these examples.

    Final updated links to programs for 2020 Cycle 1.

  •   Updated with placeholders for additional example programs for cycle 1.

    Page completed revamped and updated to support the revised Example Science Program strategy and support methodology.
    This includes having the ETC workbooks and APT files for each program available directly from pull-down menus within the ETC and APT.
Originally published