Creating the Prototype JWST Exposure Time Calculators (ETCs)

Megan Sosey (Space Telescope Science Institute), Christopher Hanley (STScI), Vicki Laidler (CSC), Kevin Lindsay (STScI), Perry Greenfield (STScI), Mark Sienkiewicz (STScI), Todd Miller (STScI)


Exposure time calculators (ETCs) are tools that astronomers use to explore observing scenarios for their scientific data acquisition. ETCs are heavily used during the periods of observing proposal planning and submission. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is still in development and does not yet have any orbital data. However, having access to such a tool can greatly aid scientists as they discover the new capabilities that JWST will provide. Recently the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) ETC was redesigned and we leveraged this experience and the knowledge gained to implement a prototype ETC for a limited set of JWST observing modes. Since HST primarily operates in visible wavelengths of light and JWST in the infrared, we needed to create new functionality to meet the challenges of this new regime. This included developing new noise models to deal with the IR background environment. In addition, JWST had several extremely complex observation modes requiring a great deal of development and scientific scrutiny to implement correctly. The JWST prototype ETCs were released to support the “Frontier Science Opportunities with JWST” meeting which discussed the high-risk, high reward science programs that Webb will achieve. In this poster we discuss the development of the JWST ETC, some of the design issues we encountered, and the techniques and tools we were able to employ that greatly simplified both the creation and verification of the final results.

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Paper ID: P098

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