James Webb Space Telescope

Artist's conception of JWST. Source: webbtelescope.org


This is a wiki about the James Webb Space Telescope. It is built with resources from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and from NASA.

Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

Much of the science related to the JWST is managed by the STScI, in Maryland (US). The Institute is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and leads science and mission operations for the telescope.

The way they work follows their experience with other projects, like the Hubble Space Telescope. Thanks to their work, the use of some of the most advanced pieces of technology ever created by humankind is made available to a worldwide community via regular calls for observing proposals.

The same data scientists use to make their research is eventually made available for free.

The JWST observatory

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is NASA’s infrared flagship observatory. JWST is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

As pointed by STScI:

“Following on the technical and scientific legacy of previous optical and infrared space observatories, such as Hubble, Spitzer, and Herschel, JWST offers orders of magnitude improvements in sensitivity and spatial resolution from 0.6 to 28.8 micron, enabling transformative research in a broad range of science areas, including the solar system, exoplanets, star- and planet-formation, galactic science, galaxy formation and evolution, and cosmology.” STScI, about JWST

JWST was launched on December 25, 2021, took 29 days to be deployed into its orbit about the second Lagrange point (L2), and other 5 months to cool down and ready its instruments.

Science instruments

JWST is equipped with four science instruments sensitive over a wide wavelength range from the optical to the mid-infrared (0.6 - 28.3 microns).

  • Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec)
  • Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam)
  • Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI)
  • Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS)

Diagram of JWST observing modes. STScI instrumentation

Doing research with JWST

The process adopted by STScI to share the usage of JWST is:

  1. Every year a worldwide community of scientists is invited to submit observing proposals. The submitted proposals are peer reviewed and awarded following a process developed in-house to minimize selection bias;
  2. US-based investigators are eligible for financial research support when awarded Webb observing time;
  3. A suite of observation and planning tools is made available by STScI for elaboration of proposals, which reflect the technology and types of observation that can be done with JWST;
  4. From its Mission Operation Center STScI sends commands for the observatory to execute, monitor its its operational health and receive scientific data on a daily basis;
  5. Raw data received from the observatory is processed and transformed into a format that can be distributed for scientific analysis and publication;
  6. The data is initially made available to the groups that were awarded observation time, so they can perform their analysis and publish eventual papers. After a period of time the data is made freely available on the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST).

At the time of this writing the JWST in on its second year of observation. The groups that were awarded observation time on the first year are now publishing their discoveries, which makes this a very exciting time for astronomy!


STScI maintains a list of scientific literature with significant JWST content.

Publications with significant JWST content, as kept by STScI, by date.

The future

STScI is programmed to be part of NASA’s next flagship observatory following Webb, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. As stated by STScI:

“With a view 100 times wider than the Hubble Space Telescope at the same sensitivity and resolution, the Roman Space Telescope will build wide-field maps of large regions of the sky in near-infrared light, and has the potential to answer vital questions in exoplanet and dark energy research. The Roman Project is currently planning for observatory launch in late 2026. Looking forward, the staff at STScI will continue to follow the institute’s mission: to help humanity explore the universe with advanced space telescopes and ever-growing data archives.” STScI


This wiki was written by the creator of Supawiki. It uses material made available to be freely used as in the public domain in accordance with NASA’s contract, following STScI content use policy.

Please direct any inquiries to Supawiki.