NIRISS Aperture Masking Interferometry APT Template

This article provides instructions for filling out the JWST NIRISS aperture masking interferometry APT template.

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See also: NIRISS Aperture Masking Interferometry, JWST High-Contrast Imaging RoadmapHCI APT InstructionsNIRISS AMI Recommended Strategies, NIRISS AMI Science Use Case, NIRISS Non-Redundant Mask

Aperture masking interferometry (AMI) is one of the 4 observing modes for the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS). The AMI mode uses a non-redundant mask (NRM) in the pupil wheel of NIRISS. It has 7 "holes" (apertures) that produce an interferogram in the image plane, and samples 21 unique ("non-redundant") baselines.  AMI provides the highest effective angular resolution of any instrument mode on JWST, enabling the detection of planetary or stellar companions at a distance of 70–400 mas from their host stars. This mode also enables high resolution mapping of extended sources through near-infrared aperture synthesis.

The NRM is used in conjunction with one of 3 medium band filters (F380MF430MF480M) or a wide band filter (F277W) in the filter wheel (FW). A typical observation with AMI will include a target acquisition (TA) image, which is required if the science exposures use a subarray, followed by several exposures with the NRM in the PW with one of the 4 allowed filters in the FW, and possibly a direct image to help associate features in the NRM images with morphological features of the target. Direct images may help constrain or stabilize image reconstruction methods applied to extended object NRM data. Direct images can also be used on fainter multiple point source targets, especially when recently-developed “kernel phase” data analyses are used.

NRM data analysis of a target observation requires one or more PSF reference stars. The PSF reference is used to calibrate out the instrumental contribution to closure phases and visibility amplitudes. To minimize the impact of detector effects, the PSF reference star should be observed with the same dither pattern, especially for more demanding observations.  It is likely that lower contrast targets may not need dedicated PSF reference stars, but could be calibrated with PSF reference data taken by other programs. Ideally, for higher contrast needs, target and reference observations should be scheduled close in time, so that the telescope is in a similar state, thermal or otherwise, for all the observations.  In this case, the science target(s) and PSF reference star(s) should be observed using the same telescope optical configuration, so no wavefront correction should occur between any of the observations. We recommend specifiying GROUP NON-INTERRUPTIBLE or SEQUENCE NON-INTERRUPTIBLE in the timing special requirements window in APT. The APT requires justification if an observer does not request any reference star observation.

Step-by-step APT instructions


Words in bold italics are buttons 
or parameters in GUI tools. Bold 
style represents GUI menus/
panels & data software packages.

The following parameters are generic to all templates, and are not discussed in this article: observation Number, observation Labelobservations CommentsTarget name, ETC Wkbk. Calc ID (in the Filters dialog box), Mosaic Properties, and Special Requirements.

Target acquisition parameters 

Target acquisition

See also: NIRISS Target AcquisitionJWST ETC NIRISS Target Acquisition 

Target acquisition (TA) places the centroid of the brightest object in the TA field-of-view on the location of the AMI aperture used for the science exposure. An observer can specify one of the 3 options for Acq TargetNONESame Target as Observationor any source in the target list whose position is within 30"-80" of the science target (where the maximum distance depends on Galactic latitude). If a subarray is chosen for the science observation, a TA must be performed. TA is performed with the F480M filter in the filter wheel.

There are 2 options for Acq Mode, based on the M-band magnitude of the target which is specified in the AMI Template Parameters articleAMIBRIGHT and AMIFAINT.

  Acquisition exposure time

See also: NIRISS Detector Readout Patterns

 The only permitted ACQ readout pattern for AMIBRIGHT is NISRAPID. Both NIS and NISRAPID are available readout patterns when the Acq Mode is AMIFAINT. The observer can specify the Acq Groups/Int (3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19), where a group is defined by the number of frames in an integration (for NISRAPID) or by the number of frames in an integration divided by 4 (for NIS).

The ETC workbook identification number used to determine the exposure parameters for the TA can be entered in the ETC Wkbk. Calc ID field. Though this input is optional, it is strongly recommended to provide this information so the TA can be assessed during technical reviews to ensure the observation can be executed correctly.

AMI parameters


See also: NIRISS AMI Dithers, NIRISS Dithers 

The NIRISS AMI dithers article discusses AMI dithering choices and the drawbacks and potential benefits of dithering.  Typically primary and subpixel dithering are not recommended.

AMI imaging will include both primary and secondary dither patterns.

Specify numer of dithers:

  • Primary Dithers: NONE, 2, 3, 4

  • Subpixel PositionsNONE5925


See also: NIRISS Detector Subarrays

Observations of bright and compact targets can make use of an 80 × 80 subarray (SUB80). Target acquisition is required if observing with a subarray. Allowed options for Subarray are FULLSUB80. See the NIRISS AMI article for the limiting Vega magnitudes accessible with the SUB80 and FULL subarrays for the various filters.


See also: NIRISS Filters, NIRISS Pupil and Filter WheelsNIRISS Detector Readout Patterns

To set up a science observation or PSF reference star observation, Add an observation to include it in the Filters dialog box. Select the Filter for the observation, where allowed options are F277WF380MF430MF480M.

The only supported Readout Pattern is NISRAPID. Specify:

  • Groups/Int: the number of groups during an integration, equal to the number of frames read per integration. Up to 800 groups are supported for this mode.

  • Integrations/Exp: the number of integrations during an exposure, where an integration is the time between detector resets.

  • ETC Wkbk. Calc ID: the accompanying ETC workbook ID number for the calculation (optional).

Exposures can be AddedDuplicatedInserted Above existing exposures, and Removed.

Direct imaging parameters

Direct image

See also: NIRISS imagingUnderstanding JWST Exposure Times

Specify True or False depending on whether a direct image is to be taken in the observation.

If True is selected, then specify:

  • Image Dithers: refers to primary image dithers. Options are NONE234

  • Groups/Int

  • Integrations/Exp

  • ETC Wkbk. Calc ID

The direct image will be performed with the same filter as the corresponding NRM image specified in AMI Parameters. The only supported Readout Pattern is NISRAPID.

Note: the Exposure Time Calculator mode for AMI does not include calculations for direct imaging. To run simulations for direct imaging to determine Groups/Int and Integrations/Exp, use the NIRISS imaging mode in ETC.

PSF reference observations

See also: HCI PSF Reference Stars , NIRISS AMI Recommended Strategies

This is a PSF reference observation

If this observation is the PSF reference star, then This is a PSF Reference Observation box must be checked, in the PSF Reference Observations panel at the bottom of the page. Note that PSF reference star observations have a 0 month exclusive access period.

PSF reference observations

If PSF reference observations have already been specified, then one or more of those observation(s) can be selected in the PSF Reference Observations dialog box. The PSF reference observations must be observed with the same Filter and  Subarray as the science target to show up in this dialog box.

Additional justification

If a PSF reference observation is not deemed to be required for the current observation, then Additional Justification must be selected.  In that case, the absence of PSF Reference Observations must be scientifically justified in the PDF attachment of the proposal

Verify observation set-up

See also: APT Target Confirmation Charts, APT Visit PlannerAPT Smart AccountingAPT Aladin Viewer 

  • Create Target Confirmation Charts to verify that the input target coordinates will position the telescope in the correct place.

  • Run APT Visit Planner to check schedulability of observations, check constraints, and see whether guide stars are available to support the observation. Then run APT Smart Accounting to update time accounting and to remove excess overhead charges. APT can generate various reports through the "Reports" option in the Visit Planner view. Observers can access additional reports through File → Export option in the top menu bar. For example the .times file provides a break-down of individual exposures and associated exposure times, including overhead. These reports may help observers to tweak their observations to increase efficiency.

  • Observers can also visualize their observations onto the celestial sphere using the APT Aladin Viewer.

Other tabs

Special requirements

See also: APT Special Requirements

Target and reference star observations can be temporally grouped by using the Timing→Group/Sequence Observations Link option in the Special Requirements dialog box under the Special Requirements tab. We recommend specifying Group non-interruptible or Sequence non-interruptible

Extended object imaging may need observations at more than one position angle in order to fill in gaps in uv-plane coverage, which can be achieved by invoking the Position Angle option in the Special Requirements dialog box under the Special Requirement tab.

Latest updates

    Updated explanation of Additional justification box

    Updated text on max. distance of offset TA target.

    Updated parameter headings to be consistent with APT v. 27.0

    Added note that users need to use ETC imaging calculations to derive exposure parameters for AMI direct imaging.
Originally published