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NASA Keck Call for Proposals: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions about the call, please contact KeckCFP@ipac.caltech.edu. Submitted questions and responses will be posted below.

For questions not answered below, please email keckcfp@ipac.caltech.edu

General FAQs

Q: Is there a standard way of acknowledging the award of NASA Keck time and the associated funding ?

A : All publications based on data acquired with the Keck telescopes should include the following acknowledgement:

"This work was supported by a NASA Keck PI Data Award, administered by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute. Data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory from telescope time allocated to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through the agency's scientific partnership with the California Institute of Technology and the University of California. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation.

The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain."

Please send a citation for any paper using this acknowledgement to Dr. Dawn Gelino (dawn@ipac.caltech.edu).

Q: Is there a standard way of acknowledging use of the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA)?

A : All publications based on data in the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA) should include this acknowledgement.

Q: I am currently at an institution outside the U.S. and will be starting a position at a U.S. institution soon after the deadline to apply for Keck time. Therefore, I will be a U.S.-based astronomer before the start of the observing semester but after the proposal deadline. Am I allowed to propose as a P.I.?

A : Yes, you can apply as a P.I. since you will be based in the U.S. before the start of the observing semester. Include all the information from the U.S.-based institution in your proposal for NASA Keck observing time.

Q: Do you have to be a U.S. citizen or at a NASA institution to apply for NASA Keck time?

A : No, you do not have to be at a NASA institution or be a US Citizen in order to apply for NASA Keck time. Any scientist from any US institution may apply.

Q: Is the solicitation restricted to science associated with missions in the Exoplanet Exploration and Cosmic Origins themes only, or is science relevant to missions in Physics of the Cosmos also eligible, e.g. Fermi, Chandra?

A : NASA Keck time is not limited to a set of specific missions, but rather to projects that address the goals and questions in the exoplanet, cosmic origins, and physics of the cosmos astrophysics science themes. Therefore, if there is science relevant to Fermi or Chandra that directly relates to, say, Cosmic Origins, or Physics of the Cosmos goals, then the project is eligible for NASA Keck time. Your job is to convince the TAC that it is relevant to a NASA goal in one of these science areas as well as being an efficient use of NASA Keck time.

Q: Can a proposal on any extra-galactic topic be submitted?

A : Extragalactic proposals that support Cosmic Origins or Physics of the Cosmos theme science as described in the 2014 NASA Strategic Plan. can be submitted.

Q: What do the following criteria really mean? "Investigations in support of Cosmic Origins science goals and missions."

A : The Cosmic Origins theme science includes stars, star formation, galaxies/AGN, and galaxy formation as described in the 2014 NASA Strategic Plan


FAQs related to Mission Support Status and Key Strategic Mission Support Proposals

Q: What is the required content of the non-binding Notice of Intent (NoI) for a NASA Keck Key Strategic Mission Support (KSMS) proposal for 2018A?

A : The purpose of the NoI is to let us know which missions will be represented in the KSMS proposals in order to recruit appropriately knowledgeable people for the TAC. To that end, adding a sentence or two describing the basic premise of the proposal, along with a list of the key players, is helpful but not required. The PI name and proposal title cannot change once the NoI is submitted.

Q: What does "critical and timely support for approved NASA space missions" mean?

A : In this case, "critical" refers to refers to NASA Keck data meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  1. essential to achieving Level 1 Requirements of the mission
  2. essential to important mission planning activities
  3. essential to longer term mission planning

Q: Do the required mission support letters count against the page number restrictions?

A : No, these are separate documents that are submitted in addition to the proposal.

Q: Would support of Herschel Open Time Key Projects fall into the category of "direct mission support" mentioned in the call?

A : While support of a Herschel Key Project certainly qualifies as strategic to NASA, it would not be considered as direct mission support since the success of the mission does not depend on NASA Keck Time. Please submit your Keck proposal under the applicable science category (Solar System, Exoplanets, Origins: Galactic, Origins: Extragalactic or Physics of the Cosmos).

Q: I have questions regarding Keck proposals in support of ongoing (approved) NASA missions. The Herschel Space Observatory, a joint ESA/NASA project, has two categories of Key Projects: Open Time (OTKP) and Guaranteed Time Key Projects (GTKP), each involve US and European PIs. In most cases, the OTKPs have European and US PIs, where the US PIs coordinate the US contributions to the effort. Likewise, the European GTKPs often have US "Project Leads" for parts of the GTKP.

Am I allowed to propose for Keck time for either category, specifically for projects on the science of Star Formation and AGN?

A : Star formation and AGN are included in the cosmic origins theme, so you are allowed to propose for Keck time for both types of Herschel projects. Just make sure you stress the U.S. involvement in the project, and have a U.S.-based PI. Your proposal should not be classified as a mission-support proposal, however, as the success of the mission does not depend on your proposed Keck time.


FAQs related to Current/Past Allocated Observing Time

Q: Should the "references and status of allocated time on large telescopes" and the "progress report for ongoing or recently completed NASA Keck projects" be included for the PI only or for all the Co-Is as well?

A : This is only required for the proposal PI. However, if your Co-Is' project is relevant to your current proposal in any way, then a listing of the time allocated and a progress report for that project should also be included.

Q: Should progress reports be included for ongoing or recently completed Keck projects that I am involved with but not as the PI or am I exempt from this since I am not the PI on these projects?

A : This requirement is only for the proposal PI. However if the project is relevant to your current proposal in any way, then a progress report should be included.

Q: What specific information should be included in the section "status of allocated time on large telescopes"?

A : An overview of recent and pending large telescope time, NASA or otherwise, is advised. If the time pertains directly to your proposed program, feel free to offer details. It is also prudent to note any publications resulting from previous telescope time, NASA or otherwise.

Q: Is there a template for the final Keck PI Data Award report?

A : Yes, using this template for your final report will ensure that all relevant information is included.


FAQs related to Proposal Format

Q: Is there a standard LaTeX proposal template to use for the proposals?

A : We do not have a LaTeX template for the NASA Keck proposals. Please read the call for proposals carefully to ensure that you include all the information requested and follow the page limit guidelines.

Q: Do the required mission support letters count against the page number restrictions?

A : No, these are separate documents that are submitted in addition to the proposal.


FAQs related to Remote Observing

Q: Can I make my NASA Keck observations from a remote location?

A : Yes. NASA Keck observers have access to remote observing facilities (ROFs) at Caltech, Yale, and through USRA in Columbia, MD. Please note that other ROFs are also available and NASA users with access to these may use them, however access arrangements must be made with those ROFs directly (i.e. independent of NExScI).

Observers wishing to use the Caltech,Yale, or URSA/Columbia ROFs are required to follow the procedure described at the WMKO Mainland Observing Policies page and summarized here. This process should be started at least 5 weeks prior to the scheduled observing run.


(last updated August 11th, 2017 09:39:38)

Web Curator and NExScI Cognizant Official: Dr. Dawn Gelino