Policy 4 - Post-Launch Commissioning of JWST

The JWST Project, supported by its contractors and by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) JWST Projects, will conduct the overall, post-launch commissioning of the JWST and its ground systems. The commissioning activities are described in the JWST Observatory Commissioning Plan and will include the deployment and checkout of observatory systems.  The commissioning activities will verify JWST systems and optical performance and establish that basic scientific performance capabilities of the JWST Observatory are consistent with Program and Project requirements.

It is recognized that deployment, cool-down, orbital insertion and completion of commissioning will require approximately six months from launch. Some high priority scientific observations (GTO & GO) with the JWST are likely to be carried out during the commissioning period, since it is clearly desirable to begin to take science data as early as is technically feasible. The proper phasing of science observations with commissioning observations during this period is a scientific and operational decision to be negotiated by the Project and STScI within the framework of the commissioning plan. Reasonable latitude may be exercised in allowing a limited number of nonrestricted scientific and public information observations during the commissioning period, so long as this does not significantly disrupt the commissioning process.

Early Release Observations (EROs) will be taken by JWST during both the commissioning and post-commissioning phases of operation. These observations will be chosen to have wide public appeal and are designed to demonstrate the capabilities of the JWST instruments. Publication or reporting in any form of results of these observations is embargoed until the EROs are released. The ERO data become publicly available at that time.

The observing time for GO & GTO scientific observations carried out during the commissioning period will be charged to the Principal Investigators (PIs), and the data obtained will carry the normal exclusive access stipulations. Observing time allocated to commissioning observations defined in the Commissioning Plan will not be charged against either GTO or GO PIs. Disposition of the commissioning data and any nonrestricted scientific data shall be as follows. During the commissioning period, access to the data will be limited to the GTOs, STScI staff, NASA, ESA, CSA Project personnel, and others participating in commissioning activities. The only exceptions will be public information releases, governed by applicable NASA policies and applicable NASA-ESA-CSA agreements. At the conclusion of the commissioning period, after consultation with the STScI, with the Science Working Group (SWG), and with the other participating Agencies and contractors, the JWST Project will report on the state of readiness of the observatory in the JWST Observatory Commissioning Report. Subsequently, the results of commissioning will be reported by the JWST Project, the international partners, the SWG, and the STScI in a timely manner in a suitable public forum. The commissioning data will then be released for the use of observers and for later distribution in accordance with policies governing non-restricted JWST archive data. Data falling under the categories defined in Policy No. 6 shall be treated as commissioning calibration data until the conclusion of the commissioning period, at which time the provisions of Policy No. 6 shall take effect.  Publication or reporting in any form of results obtained during the commissioning period is embargoed until the end of the commissioning period unless approved by NASA.

Approved by:

Edward J. Weiler, Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters.  1/5/2010

Paul Hertz, Chief Scientist, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters. 12/30/2009

Jon A. Morse, Director, Astrophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters.   12/7/2009

Eric P. Smith, JWST Program Scientist, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters.  11/30/2009

In accordance with Contract NAS5-03127, Statement of Work, Section A.4, A.5, the following guidelines are policies promulgated by the NASA Associate Administrator (AA) for the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) with regard to the implementation of the JWST science mission. Any reference to JWST Program or Project refers to the NASA JWST Program or Project unless explicitly noted otherwise.

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Originally published