NASA announces this call for proposals to use its share of observing time at the W. M. Keck Observatory. This call for semester 2024A (February 1 - July 31, 2024) will allocate ~43 nights of observing, with planned allocations of ~20 nights on Keck 1 and ~23 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, September 14, 2023 at 4 pm PDT and should be submitted via the online submission site. All proposals are required to use these templates for the Science Program (available in Word and LaTex format) and the Expertise and Access document (available in Word and LaTex format).
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 as described in the Science Mission Directorate's 2020 Science Plan and in the documents linked below for each science area.
The scientific areas in which proposals are solicited are:
Within these science areas, three types of proposals for NASA Keck observing time will be accepted for semester 2024A:
As noted above, in addition to astrophysics investigations, proposers are encouraged to consider compelling planetary science investigations, especially those supported by the last Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032. Proposers should identify how the observations contribute to the body of scientific knowledge needed to help refine objectives of 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.
Proposers should base their science case in terms of strategic relevance toward achieving one or more of NASA's goals in the science areas listed above. Gradations of strategic relevance are listed below. In the "NASA Strategic Relevance" section entered on the submission site, please note and give evidence for the level your program matches; a numerical grade that counts for a significant fraction of the overall grade will be assigned for strategic relevance.
General Observing and Mission Support programs requiring many nights of Keck time over multiple semesters (up to 4 semesters) may be submitted but must explicitly justify their strategic connection to the stated goals. Read further about multi-semester proposals in Section III below.
Within these broad guidelines, the allocation of time will be based on scientific merit, strategic importance, resource availability, and the uniqueness of Keck's capabilities for the investigation. All proposals for NASA Keck time will be evaluated by scientists on the NASA Keck Telescope Allocation Committee (NASA Keck TAC), with the TAC process administered by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI). In recognition of the science communities that NASA Keck time is expected to serve, TAC members are selected to ensure balanced expertise in the areas of exoplanets, solar system objects, and in support of NASA's Cosmic Origins and Physics of the Cosmos goals. NASA's proposal solicitation and their evaluation by the NASA Keck TAC will be phased to meet the telescope scheduling requirements set by the Director of the Keck Observatory.
The opportunity to propose as a Principal Investigator (PI) for the NASA time on the Keck Telescopes is open to all U.S.-based astronomers, i.e. those with their principal affiliation at a U.S. institution. All proposals for NASA Keck time must comply with the criteria outlined in the following sections. The NASA Keck proposal review follows a Dual Anonymous Proposal Review (DAPR) process.
Proposals received by the application deadline will be reviewed and ranked by the NASA Keck TAC. The TAC will submit their recommendations to the selecting official, the NExScI Executive Director, for final selection. NExScI will coordinate the final selections with WMKO for scheduling.
For a complete NASA Keck proposal, PIs will submit the following documents as well as the information requested on the submission page.
Proposals that violate the page limits will be evaluated solely on the information on the allowed pages and will likely receive a lower ranking from the TAC. In extreme cases the proposal will be returned as non-compliant.
Proposers should submit the PDFs of their Science Program and Expertise and Access Document using the online proposal submission form which includes fields for:
All these fields should be written in DAPR format. Information on the NExScI cover page may be made public for accepted proposals.
Shortly after proposal submission, you will receive an email acknowledgement with attached PDFs of the anonymized and non-anonymized versions of your proposal as received at NExScI. Please email KeckCFP@ipac.caltech.edu if you do not receive the confirmation email or experience problems.
The Science Program should outline the science and technical case for the proposed program using this template available in Word template and LaTex template. These Guidelines for Proposers will assist with writing an anonymized proposal. The scientific case for observing time should establish the following:
The technical case should demonstrate that the proposed measurements are technically feasible, given the performance of the proposed instrument(s), in the time requested.
Specific points that must be addressed include:
The proposal should be aimed at someone who is not a specialist in the particular area of astronomy under study. A specific scientific case with a connection to the bigger picture, rather than a broad general one, is usually more successful.
For a proposal to be recommended for scheduling, the proposal must have both a high science and a high strategic grade. The TAC evaluates the scientific merit of each proposal separately from the strategic merit, so successful proposals must present a strong and coherent scientific case.
As part of the DAPR process, NExScI requires that proposers submit a non-anonymized Expertise and Access (E&A) document in addition to the anonymized Science Program. The E&A document must use this template available in Word template and LaTex template.Team Expertise
The one-page team expertise document should demonstrate that the proposal team has the requisite expertise to make the observations and reduce the data in a timely manner. It should include the team's expertise in the following: Keck instrumentation, data reduction and analysis/modeling, and observational experience. For proposals with many Co-Investigators, it is not necessary to report on the qualifications of every team member, only those conducting or leading major aspects of the proposed study. A biography of each team member is not needed.Access to Keck and Subaru Time
Proposals from PIs, or any Co-Is, who have access to the Keck or Subaru (if applying for Subaru time) telescopes through other partners, specifically the University of California, Caltech, Yale, Keck Observatory, Swinburne, and the University of Hawaii, are accepted by the NASA Keck TAC. However, the Expertise and Access document must specifically include:
The TAC may use access to non-NASA Keck/Subaru time as a factor in determining the final grades and rankings of the proposals. The ability to achieve the science objectives with and without NASA time could be either a positive or a negative factor. If 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 for project completion and the proposal may receive a lower ranking in comparison to a project that completes its goals within the NASA allocation. However, if the PI can leverage access to NASA and non-NASA time to address science 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 one of the factors in determining the final ranking.
Failure to account for your appropriate level of access to non-NASA Keck time, both on the submission page and in the text of the E&A document, will cause the proposal to be rejected as a non-compliant submission.Progress Report for Ongoing or Recently Completed Keck Projects AND Status of Allocated Time on Large Telescopes
No more than one page should be used to summarize the PI's and key Co-I's current involvement on existing Keck research programs to inform the reviewers of the status of completed and planned observations, data analysis, and publications. A similar summary should be made for other relevant large or space-based telescope time that has been awarded during the past two years.
To use the NASA time on the Keck telescopes as efficiently as possible, proposers must verify, while being DAPR compliant, that their science goals cannot be met through public observations already in the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA). To do this, the PI must enter text into a box on the submission page explaining why data contained in KOA are not sufficient to meet their science goals.
Reasons why additional or different data are needed could be related to, but are not limited to, the cadence, timing, or depth of the archived observations, or the wavelength range or observation mode in which the data were taken. PIs proposing solar system or other target observations that investigate changes over time, can state this without checking the archive. Proposers with large survey programs should describe KOA results for a representative sample of their targets.
To see what data are contained in KOA, please use this link and enter your target list according to the directions.
HIRES is available in a dedicated precision radial velocity (PRV) configuration. HIRES data collected in this prescribed HIRES-PRV configuration will be compatible with the public radial velocity pipeline processing environment available at NExScI which will produce wavelength-calibrated 1D spectra and time-series of relative PRVs.
There are several important considerations for observers wishing to use the HIRES PRV configuration; only data collected in the specified HIRES-PRV configuration and data collected according to the documented recommendations can be processed properly in the NExScI HIRES processing environment.
Questions regarding the HIRES PRV configuration or PRV processing may be directed to Dr. David Ciardi at NExScI.
Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the proposal review in early June (B semesters) or early December (A semesters). Successful applicants are encouraged to initiate communications with the WMKO technical staff to ensure that valuable Keck telescope time is used efficiently from your first time on the telescope.Program Support
Contingent upon funding from NASA Headquarters, PIs of programs assigned time through this Call for Proposals will received limited research and travel support. Funding awards will be determined through formulaic means. Target of Opportunity and Twilight Observing programs do not receive financial support since the observations may never be triggered.
NExScI will manage the Keck PI Data Awards (KPDAs) 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. Proposals should not include any budget information.Final Report
The only reporting necessary for KPDAs is a required "end of contract" report outlining the work done and any resulting publications. Please use this final report template to 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. Final reports should be submitted online.
In order for a proposal to be considered for either KSMS or Mission Support status, the proposing team must demonstrate that the proposed program meets one or more of the programmatic criteria below. There is a section in the anonymous Science Program template for this purpose.
For any type of mission support proposal to be recommended for scheduling, the proposal must have both a high science and a high strategic grade. The TAC evaluates the scientific merit of each proposal separately from the strategic merit, so successful proposals must present a strong and coherent scientific case.
NASA has solicited proposals for large Key Strategic Mission Support programs in four previous semesters: 2016A, 2018A, 2019B, and 2022A. Abstracts of the KSMS programs selected in these semesters can be read here. The selected proposals directly support the science goals and requirements of NASA missions as well as the legacy value of their data products and are not just larger versions of general science programs.
KSMS projects may support past, present, and/or future NASA-led missions or missions with significant NASA partnerships. Highest priority will be given to operating missions or missions approaching launch, with lower priority given to past missions (e.g. Kepler, WISE) or more distant future missions (e.g. Habitable Worlds Observatory). In order for a proposal to be considered for Key Strategic Mission Support status, the proposing team must explicitly demonstrate that the proposed program meets one or more of the criteria in Section II above.
A KSMS program must request at least 10 nights but no more than 60 nights, spanning 2 - 4 semesters (i.e., 5 - 15 nights per semester) on Keck 1 and/or Keck 2. Between 10 - 60 nights total over two years (2024A-2025B) will be allocated between one or more KSMS programs.
KSMS Science Program
The KSMS Science Program should be prepared following this template (provided with KSMS page limit notes, in Word and LaTex formats) following the page limit guidelines for KSMS proposals and must address the following criteria:
Proposals should also follow the general proposal guidelines described in Section Ib. As noted in Section Ib and the template, the Science Program has increased page limits for some sections for the KSMS proposals.
All raw data will be made public through the Keck Observatory Archive after the standard 12-month period of exclusive use (see Section V.) Requests for a shorter period of exclusive use may be considered favorably by the TAC; requests for a longer period of exclusive use will not be accepted for KSMS data. In addition to the raw data, KSMS programs must provide KOA with processed data as noted in #8 above.
KSMS Expertise and Access Document
The NASA Keck TAC accepts General Mission Support proposals every semester. These proposals must demonstrate that the proposed observations provide critical and timely support for confirmed (i.e., at least Phase B) and operating NASA space missions only. In this case, "critical" refers to NASA Keck data meeting one or more of the criteria in Section II above.
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.
Principal investigators may submit proposals that span up to 4 semesters.
The option of multi-semester proposals reduces the workload on both PIs and the NASA Keck TAC for long-term programs. The NASA Keck TAC will be instructed to address these proposals considering all of the criteria that apply for single semester proposals, in addition to the following:
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.
Proposals requesting less than full nights or cadence/Time Domain Astronomy programs must be scientifically and technically justified and can ordinarily be accommodated only if they can be combined with another selected program requiring a compatible instrument and configuration. Observing modes that require substantial observatory support (e.g., Laser Guide Star) are more difficult to schedule as partial night observations.
Programs requesting less than ½ night increments are difficult to schedule and may, in fact, not be schedulable due to the following WMKO requirements: less than ½ night increments must be matched with other compatible NASA programs to fill a full night, and no more than 2 observing programs can be scheduled per night. For example, a ¼ night NASA program must be matched with a compatible ¾ night NASA program.
Please note: Despite the above statement, WMKO anticipates quarter night requests for KPF observations and encourages all Keck I PIs to consider proposing for 0.75 time allocations if this is feasible for their target visibility. Please indicate which portion of the night you are requesting.
The Subaru facility prefers full night allocations, although it is usually possible to arrange half night increments. Please see the special notes for HSC proposals on Subaru's website.
Please read the following policies and the additional details below for NASA Keck time specifically. Subuaru time is
Due to their disruptive nature, ToO or TDA proposals must be of the highest scientific and/or strategic importance. We will try to schedule the highest priority programs but cannot guarantee availability of ToO/TDA observations for all approved programs. Observing modes that require substantial observatory support, e.g. LGS, are more difficult to schedule as ToO observations.
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 can be considered by the TAC and potential scheduling opportunities can be discussed. ToOs will be limited to instruments currently in use and must be triggered prior to 4:00 pm HST. All ToO observing teams should set up at-home observing at the beginning of the semester, well ahead of any possible ToO trigger events.
Partner Interrupts vs. Institution (in this case NASA) Interrupts: ToOs can be requested as "Institution" or "Partner." The four major Keck partners (UC, Caltech, UH, and NASA) have agreed that TAC-approved ToO and TDA projects may interrupt observers at any of these four institutions. The NASA Keck TAC can only allocate up to a total/combination of 6 "Partner" cadence interrupts and ToO triggers per semester, i.e. NASA observers can only interrupt observers from any of the other partner institutions a total of 6 times per semester. Each interrupt cannot exceed 1 hour.
Institution interrupts can only be triggered for times when a NASA PI is observing. The limit on the number of institution interrupts is dependent on the number and nature of fractional night NASA programs recommended per semester, and can therefore vary each semester, but will likely be no more than 6.
Under the ToO rules, ALL programs, even partial night programs, are designated interruptible by default. PIs may ask for their time to be designated as uninterruptible, i.e. exempt from ToO or cadence interrupts. To do this, mark the appropriate box on the NExScI submission page and justify in a brief paragraph why the proposed observations cannot be interrupted. This explanation should be strong and scientifically motivated. It is anticipated that interruption-free time will rarely be granted.
Only proposals that fit the case of a ToO observation of an extraordinary opportunity that could not have been anticipated prior to the proposal deadline may be submitted outside of the regular submission cycle to Dr. Dawn Gelino. Note that all ToO proposals must meet the strategic relevance guidelines described above.
NASA observers can also propose for cadence/Time Domain Astronomy (TDA) and Target of Opportunity (ToO) observing programs. 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 can be considered by the TAC and potential scheduling opportunities can be discussed. Cadence/TDA observations are those that can be scheduled in advance and require only a small fraction of a night several times over a semester. Programs requesting date-specific observations should be submitted as 'specific' proposals noting the date restrictions, NOT as cadence proposals.
The 2023A TAC approved multi-semester twilight observing programs for both available (OSIRIS and NIRC2) instruments through 2024B. Therefore, our next call for twilight proposals is expected to be for the 2025A semester.
Data taken with all instruments on the Keck telescopes are archived in the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA) with the default period of exclusive use determined by each Keck partner institution. As of semester 2023A, the period of exclusive use for NASA Keck data is reduced from 18 months to 12 months. The period of exclusive use for other Keck partners remains at 18 months. Requests for extensions of this 12-month period for NASA Keck data MUST be noted on the WMKO cover sheet and included in the Expertise and Access (E&A) document with the reason for the extension meeting one or more of the criteria listed below. Requests for extensions of this 12-month period for NASA Keck data will be considered by the NASA Selecting official on a case-by-case basis, will require compelling justification, are expected to be infrequent, and are unlikely to exceed the previous 18-month period.
Criteria for extending the default 12-month period of exclusive use for NASA Keck data include, but are not limited to the following:
Requests for extensions to the period of exclusive use submitted outside the proposal cycle due to unforeseen circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should be submitted via email.
All publications based on data acquired with the Keck telescopes and/or the Keck Observatory Archive must 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 Maunakea 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 use the ADS bibcode provided by KOA to reference the PI of the dataset.
At home observing: requires the installation of software which only runs on linux and macOS operating systems. First time Keck observers are required to travel to WMKO, if at all possible.
NASA Keck observers have access to the Remote Observing Facility (ROF) at IPAC for their Keck observations. This ROF is located at Caltech/IPAC (Pasadena, CA). See the ROF page for more information and usage guidelines. The procedure to use one of these ROFs should be started no later than 5 weeks before the scheduled nights.
Other ROFs are available to NASA users with direct access to these facilities.
Web Curator and NExScI Cognizant Official: Dr. Dawn Gelino
(last updated August 8th, 2023 17:02:39)