NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

Science Corner

These pages provide historical context for the development of the JWST science case, including major science themes, white papers, and historical sensitivity estimates.

The early planning of hypothetical observing programs helped identify the core science goals for the JWST mission. These 25 programs were known as the Design Reference Mission (DRM) and were used to guide telescope, instrument, and satellite designs.

The science case for JWST was included in the development of the Science and Operations Center at STScI through the Science Operations Design Reference Mission (SODRM). This was a major exercise in simulating the scientific potential of the observatory by creating detailed observing plans for the first 18 months of science operations. It provided a realistic test bed for the design and implementation of the JWST ground system at STScI, and for simulations of the operating schedule for the observatory and its instruments.