March 3: Mission Support letter inquiries due to NASA HQ
March 17: All proposals and supporting letters due to NExScI by 4 pm PDT
NASA announces a call for proposals to use its share of observing time at the W. M. Keck Observatory. This call for semester 2016B (August 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017) will allocate 32 nights of observing, with planned allocations of 15.5 nights on Keck 1 and 16.5 nights on Keck 2, distributed evenly across dark, grey, and bright time. Typical over subscription rates range from 3:1 to 5:1.
Proposals are due on Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 4pm PDT and should be submitted via the online submission page.
NASA intends the use of its time allocation on the Keck telescopes to be highly strategic in support of on-going missions and/or high priority, long-term science goals.
The scientific areas in which proposals are solicited are:
NASA's long term research goals for all four of the above scientific areas are described in the 2014 NASA Science Plan.
The primary goal of missions within the Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP) is to discover and characterize planetary systems and Earth-like planets around nearby stars. Cosmic Origins (COR) Science comprises projects that enable the study of how stars and galaxies came into being, how they evolve, and ultimately how they end their lives. Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) projects explore the most extreme physical conditions of the universe, from black holes to dark energy. PCOS topics include cosmology, high-energy astrophysics and fundamental physics. Solar System (SS) programs involve studies of objects in our own solar system. Proposals may be reassigned to a different science area if deemed appropriate.
Proposers should base their science case in terms of strategic relevance toward achieving one or more of NASA's goals for the Exoplanet Exploration, Cosmic Origins, Physics of the Cosmos, or Solar System programs, as described in the 2014 NASA Science Plan. Below are gradations of strategic relevance. In the 'NASA Strategic Relevance' section on the cover page of your application, please note which level your program matches, and give evidence for how it matches that level.
General Observing programs requiring many nights of Keck time over multiple semesters (up to 4 semesters) may be submitted, but must explicitly and strongly justify their strategic connection to the stated goals. Multi semester proposals are further discussed in Section III below.
Within these broad guidelines, the allocation of time will be based on scientific merit, strategic importance, availability of resources, and the uniqueness of Keck's capabilities for the particular investigation. All proposals for use of NASA Keck time will be evaluated by several panels of scientists comprising the NASA Keck Telescope Allocation Committee (NASA-Keck TAC). The TAC process will be administered by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI). In recognition of the science communities that the NASA Keck time is expected to serve, TAC members are selected to assure balanced expertise in the areas of exoplanets, objects in our own solar system, and in support of NASA's Cosmic Origins and Physics of the Cosmos goals. NASA's solicitation of proposals and their evaluation by the NASA-Keck TAC will be phased so as to provide the evaluation and ranking of proposals needed to meet the telescope scheduling requirements set by the Director of the Keck Observatory.
In 2016A, NASA solicited proposals for large Key Strategic Mission Support programs. The selected proposals directly support NASA mission science goals, and are not just larger versions of general science programs. All of the KSMS time was allocated in 2016A, thus none of these proposals accepted in 2016B. There may be future KSMS calls after 2017B.
Proposers are especially encouraged to consider compelling planetary science investigations that focus on the changing nature of solar system objects over time. Many of these objects are possible future mission targets as outlined in the most recent planetary decadal survey. Proposers should identify how the observations contribute to the body of scientific knowledge needed to help refine objectives for future missions and aid in the understanding of the origin or evolution of the targeted body. Observations should be of lasting importance to the broad planetary community.
To facilitate high strategic value monitoring campaigns of planetary science objects, we will allow an exception to the general rule of scheduling whole nights and entertain requests for minimum observation durations of 1/4 night for HIRESr, NIRSPEC, MOSFIRE, NIRC2, for monitoring of any planetary science object for any proposal type. Due to scheduling constraints only half nights are possible for OSIRIS-NGS.
The opportunity to propose as Principal Investigators (PIs) for the NASA time on the Keck Telescopes is open to all U.S.-based astronomers ("U.S.-based astronomers" have their principal affiliation at a U.S. institution).
Proposals from PIs, or any Co-Is, who have access to the Keck telescopes through other means (the University of California, Caltech, Yale, Keck Observatory, Swinburne, and the University of Hawaii) should indicate specifically how they are using any other Keck telescope time they have been awarded within the last two years for the proposed project and why their research requires time beyond the allocations available through their institutions.
The TAC may use access to non-NASA Keck time as one of the factors in determining the final grades and rankings of the proposals. For example, the ability to achieve the science objectives with and without NASA time could be either a positive or a negative factor. If the NASA time provides only a small fraction (<<50%) of the observing time needed to complete a project, the TAC might conclude that NASA time is not crucial to the completion of scientific goals and the proposal may receive a lower ranking in comparison to a proposal which completes its goals within the NASA allocation. However, if the PI can leverage access to NASA and non-NASA time to address science goals aligned with NASA's strategic goals that could not be addressed with NASA time alone, the proposal could receive a higher ranking. In the case of two proposals ranked equally on scientific and technical merit, the TAC might use access to additional Keck time (as described above) as one of the factors in determining the final ranking. Other factors that the TAC may use are listed below in the specific points that proposals must address.
Proposals received by the application deadline will be reviewed and ranked by the NASA Keck TAC. The TAC will then submit their recommendations to the selecting official, the NExScI Executive Director, for final selection. NExScI will then coordinate these final selections with the Keck Observatory for scheduling.
The scientific case for observing time should establish three things:
The technical case should demonstrate that the proposed measurements are technically feasible, given the performance of the proposed instrument(s), in the time requested and that the proposal team has the requisite expertise to make the observations and reduce the data in a timely manner. Mission Support proposals must include additional supporting materials as described here.
Specific points that must be addressed include:
The proposal should be aimed at someone who is not a specialist in the area of astronomy under study. A specific scientific case, rather than a broad general one, is usually more successful.
The NASA Keck TAC accepts mission support proposals that demonstrate that the proposed observations provide critical and timely support for approved NASA space missions. In this case, "critical" refers to NASA Keck data meeting one or more of the following criteria:
The TAC evaluates the science of each Mission Support Proposal along with the general proposal pool without special consideration for programmatic impact. However, mission support proposals usually garner high strategic grades, and the NASA Keck selecting official, the NExScI Executive Director, will take the TAC evaluation and programmatic concerns into consideration in making the final time assignments.
All proposals submitted under the general mission support category must include the following endorsement letters, either in the proposal package or sent directly to the NASA Keck Operations Scientist, Dr. Dawn Gelino (KeckCFP@ipac.caltech.edu) by the March 17 due date.
Since the strong support of your letter writers is critical to deciding whether your proposal meets Mission Support criteria, contact the relevant flight project lead, as well as Dr. Hasan at NASA HQ well before the proposal submission deadline.
Omission of any of these items will eliminate a proposal from consideration in the mission support category.
Principal investigators may submit proposals that span up to 4 semesters. The intent of allowing PIs this option is to reduce workload on both PIs and the NASA Keck TAC for long-term programs. The NASA Keck TAC will be instructed to consider these proposals in light of all of the criteria that apply for single semester proposals, in addition to the following considerations:
In considering multi-semester proposals, the TAC may recommend accepting the proposal in its entirety, for some subset of the proposed semesters, or reject it outright.
Proposers should bear in mind that proposals requesting less than full nights must be scientifically and technically justified and can ordinarily be accommodated only if they can be combined with another selected NASA program requiring the same instrument and configuration (see Section Ib.ii for exceptions for Planetary Science proposals). Observing modes that require substantial observatory support (e.g., Laser Guide Star) are more difficult to schedule as partial night observations.
Due to the extreme difficulty in scheduling smaller than 0.5 night increments, in general any program requesting such increments will be counted as 0.5 nights per calendar night and only scheduled if the program can be combined with another selected NASA program requiring the same instrument and configuration. However, for programs such as solar system monitoring observations that can be combined with other scheduled NASA programs, we endeavor to charge just for the observing increments requested. Runs of more than several contiguous nights are also difficult to arrange and must be scientifically and technically justified.
All publications based on data acquired with the Keck telescopes and/or the Keck Observatory Archive should include the acknowledgement(s) below.
Please send a citation for any paper using either acknowledgement to the NASA Keck Operations Scientist, Dr. Dawn Gelino (KeckCFP@ipac.caltech.edu).
"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."
"This research has made use of the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA), which is operated by the W. M. Keck Observatory and the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI), under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration." Please also acknowledge the PI(s) of datasets that have been obtained through KOA.
The Keck Observatory Archive (KOA) is a collaboration between the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) and the W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO). NExScI is sponsored by NASA's Origins Theme and Exoplanet Exploration Program, and operated by the California Institute of Technology in coordination with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)."
The NASA TAC does consider target-of-opportunity (ToO) proposals. However, proposers should bear in mind that ToO observations are difficult to schedule and usually require rescinding or reducing the allocation of an already-scheduled NASA observer. ToO proposals for events likely to happen during a single semester (e.g. gamma-ray bursts, supernovae) must be submitted during the regular submission cycle so that the proposed observations may be considered by the TAC and potential scheduling opportunities can be discussed.
Only proposals that fit the case of a ToO observation of a truly extraordinary opportunity that could not have been anticipated prior to the regular proposal deadline may be submitted outside of the regular submission cycle to: Dr. Dawn Gelino (KeckCFP@ipac.caltech.edu).
In general, NASA ToO proposals are only scheduled during NASA nights and so the chances of a ToO being accepted and scheduled are higher for instruments with high NASA usage. In the last few years, HIRES, NIRSPEC, MOSFIRE, and NIRC2 are commonly scheduled on NASA nights for at least 10 nights a semester and all other instruments for much less. Observing modes that require substantial observatory support (e.g., LGS) are more difficult to schedule as ToO observations.
Note that all ToO proposals must meet the strategic relevance guidelines described above.
To submit your proposal, please follow the guidelines outlined on the Application Procedures page, and submit your proposal via the online submission page. Proposals are due on Thursday, March 17, 2016 by 4 pm PDT.
Subject to the availability of funds, NASA will financially support principal investigators (PIs) of programs assigned time through this call for proposals. PIs will receive limited research and travel support contingent upon NASA Headquarters funding. Funding awards will be determined through formulaic means. NExScI will manage the Keck PI Data Awards and will contract with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to administer the disbursement of most of the funds. Depending on the size of the award and the nature of the PI's home institution, the funding instrument used by JPL will in most cases be a Research Support Agreement (RSA). An RSA is a simple Fixed Price, Advance Paid, subcontract provided through JPL that is used for basic research funding where scientific reports and technical data are the only deliverables. RSAs can be awarded to educational and non-profit institutions. JPL is unable to issue grants. Proposers should not include any budget information in the proposal.
The only reporting necessary for RSAs is a final "end of contract" report outlining the work done and listing publications from the research. This report is required and is not optional. Using this template for your final report will ensure that all relevant information is included. Failure to submit a final report in a timely manner may be grounds for rejection of observing proposals in subsequent years.
Data taken with ALL instruments on the Keck telescopes are included in the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA) with a default proprietary period of 18 months. Requests for extensions of this default proprietary period MUST be included in the proposal and on the WMKO cover sheet, and be scientifically justified. All extensions must be approved by the NASA selecting official, NExScI Director, Dr. Charles Beichman.
NASA Keck observers have direct access to two Remote Observing Facilities (ROFs) for their Keck observations. These ROFs are located at Caltech (Pasadena, CA) and at Yale University (New Haven, CT). Other ROFs are available and NASA users with access to these facilities can use these; use of the Caltech or Yale ROF is not required. NASA Keck observers who do want to make use of the Caltech or Yale ROF are required to follow this procedure, which should be started no later than 5 weeks before the scheduled nights.
Web Curator and NExScI Cognizant Official: Dr. Dawn Gelino
(last updated May 2nd, 2016 09:48:11)