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NASA Keck Call for Proposals: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions about the call, please contact Submitted questions and responses will be posted below; please scroll to the bottom of the page to see the most recently posted questions.

Click here to go back to the NASA Keck Time Solicitation main information page.

For questions not answered below, please email

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 (

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: 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 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: Will a proposal on any extra-galactic topic be accepted?

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

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 NASA Strategic Plan.

Q: Should I apply for Keck time through NASA or NOAO?

A: NASA and NOAO administer different portions of the Keck time and have different deadlines for proposal submission. Researchers can apply for time through either program. Each program has different evaluation criteria and NASA generally allocates more nights per semester. Please keep in mind that proposals to the NASA call must fit within NASA's strategic goals. Click here for more information on the NOAO call for proposals.

FAQs related to Mission Support Status

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. I would like to ask about the Herschel Open Time and Guaranteed Time Key Projects, and in particular, those that are centered on the science of Star Formation and AGN.

The Herschel Space Observatory, an 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. I mention 2 cases:

  1. The OTKPs, in most cases, have European PIs and US PIs. (We US PIs coordinate the US contributions to the effort.)

  2. Likewise, The European GTKPs often have US "Project Leads" for parts of the GTKP.

So my question is - Am I allowed to propose for Keck time for 1) and/or 2) ?

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.

Q: I'm planning to submit a proposal for NASA Keck time and I have a question about mission support status. My project is aligned with the goals of the Juno mission and these kind of data will be good preparation for the mission, which is one of the reasons why the observations are timely. However, as Juno has not yet launched, should I be providing Mission Support Verification?

A: If the Juno mission says that your observations are necessary for the success of their mission, then obtain the documentation from them and submit your proposal as a mission support proposal. If not, then you are encouraged to submit your application without the mission support documents as a solar system submission.

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 for the PI only or for all the CoIs 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.

FAQs related to Proposal Format

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

A: We do not currently 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.

updated Sept. 17, 2013