2019B NASA Keck Time Solicitation


The call for proposals for NASA Keck time in observing semester 2019B (August 1, 2019 - January 31, 2020) is now open for professional research using the NASA allocation for telescope observing time at the W.M. Keck Observatory.

2019B proposals are due Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 4 pm PDT

General Information and Guidelines

  • NASA intends the use of the Keck telescopes to be highly strategic in support of on-going missions and/or high priority, long-term science goals. The NASA Keck call is open to a wide range of disciplines spanning from exoplanets and solar system topics to galactic and extragalactic topics. Click here for more details on this proposal call.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Application Procedures

  • Click here for information on page limits, proposal content, electronic submission, etc.
  • The opportunity to propose as Principal Investigators for the NASA time on the Keck Telescopes is open to all U.S.-based astronomers (i.e. those who have their principal affiliation at a U.S. institution).
  • Online Proposal Submission Site
  • Questions? email:

Highlights for 2019B

  1. NASA is soliciting large Key Strategic Mission Support (KSMS) to start in observing semester 2019B.

  2. Required but non-binding Notices of Intent (NOIs) to submit a Key Strategic Mission Support (KSMS) proposal must be emailed to NExScI by February 14, end of day. The PI name and proposal title should not change once the NOI is submitted.

  3. Letters of support for general mission support proposals must be requested from NASA HQ by February 28, two weeks before the submission deadline.

  4. Time Domain Astronomy: Observers can propose for both Time Domain Astronomy (cadence) and Target of Opportunity (ToO) programs. Note that there have been important updates to the Target of Opportunity Policy for 2019B to take into account the scientifically compelling need for ToO triggers to follow-up on gravitational wave events detected with LIGO. The most significant change is that programs scheduled in increments of 1/2 nights or smaller are now by default considered interruptible by a ToO observation, which can last up to 1 hour. As usual, the TAC may recommend a program to be uninterruptible if a very strong argument is presented by the PI. The process for initiating a ToO has also been clarified.

  5. If you are considering submitting a ToO or cadence observing proposal, see Section IV for important details and also read the complete Target of Opportunity Policy and Time Domain Astronomy (cadence) policies. These policies are not applicable to Subaru Exchange time.

  6. Twilight Observing: Keck now has a program for acquiring snapshot observations in morning twilight. The program is designed to accommodate extra infrared observations during normally scheduled visible observations, when those observations end early and surrender the last portion of the night. Each institution will be limited to one (1) program per partner institution per semester. The programs designed for longer term (> 1-2 years) will be given priority. Click here for more information.

  7. HIRES PRV Configuation: HIRES is available in a dedicated precision radial velocity (PRV) configuration. HIRES data collected in the prescribed HIRES PRV configuration are compatible with the public radial velocity pipeline processing environment available at NExScI. Observers wishing to use the HIRES PRV configuration should read Section Ib.iv for important considerations.

  8. Keck Observatory Archive (KOA) Check: In an effort to use the NASA time on the Keck telescopes as efficiently as possible, we ask proposers to verify to the TAC that their science goals cannot be met through public observations already in the Keck Observatory Archive. To accomplish this, the PI must enter text into a box on the submission page explaining why the data in KOA are not sufficient to meet their science goals.

  9. For information on strategic grading please refer to the 2014 NASA Science Plan.

  10. Special notes and considerations for the Keck instruments are available on the WMKO instrument page with some briefly summarized below.
    • NIRSPEC: Nirspec (Nirspao) will be out of service for a one month time period, which will be scheduled to meet the needs of the observing community. Some proposals may be moved into acceptable time frames to accommodate this service.

    • OSIRIS: OSIRIS-NGS will be unavailable during the month of November as it undergoes a service mission for the imager detector, and will return to service in early December. OSIRIS-LGS will be unavailable from November - January.

    • K1 LGS: Keck 1 LGS will be unavailable from November through January for installation and commissioning of a new laser.
    • SUBARU exchange: There are a significant number of facility and instrument related considerations for Subaru Observatory in 2019B. Please refer to the WMKO instrument page for complete details.
      Re-coating of the IR secondary mirror (IRM2) is planned in 2019 November, and observations using IRM2 (relevant for COMICS, IRCS, IRD, SCExAO, CHARIS, and VAMPIRES) will not be possible during this month.

      The SUBARU-KECK exchange will continue as previous semesters with flexibility as to the number of nights available for exchange. The number of exchanged nights will be determined based on community demand. Keck will offer LRIS, HIRES, OSIRIS, and MOSFIRE on Keck-I, and DEIMOS, ESI, NIRSPEC/NIRSPAO, KCWI, NIRES, and NIRC2 on Keck-II. Subaru will offer COMICS, FOCAS, HDS, MOIRCS, IRCS (with NGS/LGSAO188 elements), SCExAO, CHARIS, IRD (shared risk) and Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC).

      Subaru may support half night allocations, but whole night allocations are preferred. For HSC programs, Subaru may support "queue" observing mode, if specified in the proposal. Although this mode is in shared-risk for Keck users in 19A (Subaru will try their best but cannot guarantee the completion or provide any compensation), queue-mode may allow more flexible allocation such as e.g. very short 0.25 night request. Please check the HSC queue mode website for more details. Please note that due to frequent earthquakes, the Top Unit Exchange may be unavailable throughout the semester for the sake of equipment and worker's safety.

Key Dates

Thursday, February 14 by end of day: Due date for non-binding Notices of Intent to submit a Key Strategic Mission Support Proposal for 2019B

Thursday, Feb. 28: deadline to request letters from NASA HQ for Key Strategic Mission Support and General Mission Support proposals.

Thursday, March 14: All proposals (Key strategic Mission Support, Mission Support, General Observing) and supporting letters due to NExScI by 4 pm PDT

Useful Links and Information

The NASA Keck Time Solicitation Information web site is a source of information for professional researchers who wish to submit proposals for the NASA allocation of observing time at the W. M. Keck Observatory. For general public information, please visit the Keck Home Page.

Web Curator and NExScI Cognizant Official: Dawn Gelino

(last updated March 12th, 2019 10:33:51)