NOAO Survey Programs
NOAO offers the opportunity to conduct major survey programs on
telescopes at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory,the Kitt
Peak National Observatory, and Gemini
do not allow Survey proposals for Keck, MMT, Magellan, or the Hale telescope.)
Up to 20% of the observing time available through NOAO may be allocated
to Survey Programs. Proposals that make use of facilities in both
northern and southern hemispheres are particularly encouraged.
A total of thiry-two Survey Programs have been approved since 1999.
list of approved Survey Programs is available.
Letters of intent to propose for new surveys are due February 15, 2013, with completed proposals due March 28, 2013
What is a Survey Program?
A Survey Program is a significant observational program which:
- addresses novel, well-focused scientific goals;
- enables scientific programs requiring large, statistically
complete, and homogeneous data;
- provides a basis for planning more detailed follow-up studies;
- enables extensive archival research; and
- represents a significant enhancement over existing surveys.
Successful programs are expected to be completed in 3 years or less.
Data must be processed with a well-tested and well-documented pipeline,
must be archived in a convenient format, and must be made publicly
available no longer than one year after the first images are pipeline
How to Propose a Survey Program
Letters of Intent to propose an NOAO Survey Program must be received
by email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 15 February.
Letters should include the information below formatted as follows:
- Title of Project
- PI with full name of institution and contact information (phone & email)
- Co-I's with full names of institutions
- Broad scientific goals of the program (enough detail to allow us to
identify sensible reviewers)
- Telescope/instruments to be requested in each semester (up to six).
We understand that this is preliminary information, and it may change in
detail as the proposal is developed.
The Letters of Intent will serve two purposes. First, they will allow us
to plan our evaluation process based on the number and content of potential
proposals. This includes selection of an evaluation committee with
appropriate expertise and minimal conflict of interest. Second, the
description of the proposed survey will be reviewed to ensure that the
program fits the adopted definition of a survey. Please keep these
purposes in mind when composing a Letter of Intent and provide as much
relevant information as possible.
Proposals for NOAO Survey Programs will be accepted annually.
Proposers may obtain detailed proposal information and
forms at http://www.noao.edu/noaoprop/noaoprop.html.
Proposal materials are typically updated about one month before each deadline.
Note that proposals for the Survey Program that wish to use Gemini telescopes
must use the above form, as it contains fields that are not available in
the Phase-I Tool (PIT).
Proposals should include:
- a discussion of the primary scientific goals of the survey;
- the relationship to and advances over existing or ongoing surveys;
- additional potential uses of survey data;
- a description of the experimental design, including sample selection,
instrumentation, scheduling requirements, calibration, etc.;
- a statement of how and when the data will be made publicly available;
- a table of telescopes, instruments, number of nights, and lunar phase
requested for each semester during which the survey is carried out;
- a survey management plan including a discussion of data reductions,
archiving, and staffing to carry out the program.
Survey investigators who wish their programs to be considered for
one-semester allocations in the event that their Survey proposal
is declined should also submit a regular proposal to be considered
by the TAC (Survey proposals are reviewed by a special Survey TAC).
Investigators should note on the regular proposal that the program
has also been submitted as a Survey Program, and that time should
not be awarded to the regular program if the Survey is approved.
Clarifications of Guidelines
Changes or clarifications to the guidelines for the Survey Program
include the following:
- All telescopes on which NOAO allocates time are available for
surveys except for the MMT, Keck, Magellan, and Hale telescopes.
Note that proposals for surveys on the Gemini telescopes are now
allowed. Target of opportunity observations are not
permitted within the Survey Program.
- The Gemini instrument suite is expected to evolve during the period for
which survey proposals are being sought. Proposers can use the Gemini
and NSSC web pages to learn about planned changes. Up to date
information can be obtained from Verne Smith (email@example.com),
Director of NSSC. Proposals that would require instruments or modes
that are not as yet commissioned will not be accepted. For 2013 surveys, Flamingos-2 can be requested in imaging or long-slit modes, but not MOS.
- Instruments or modes that have not been commissioned at the time of the
call for proposals will not be available for surveys.
- The nominal cap for the survey program is 20% of the telescope
time, including commitments to ongoing surveys. However, survey time
allocations will not be allowed to dominate the time with particular,
desirable characteristics (dark time, use of particular instruments,
times of year). Large (>4.2m), medium (3.5m-4.2m), and small (<3.5m)
telescopes are considered separately. Survey allocations may exceed
the cap for small telescopes if the overall oversubscription rate is
- The maximum period over which survey observations are carried
out is 3 years. An exception may be made for time-domain surveys
that require longer time coverage.
- The deadline for Survey proposals is March 28, 2013. The
proposal form is longer and somewhat different than the regular
proposal form, and it includes questions about management plan and
data distribution. The current version of the form will be available
at the NOAO web site around February 28, 2013.
- Proposals will be reviewed by a separate Survey Panel, prior to
being considered by the merging TAC for inclusion into the ranked
lists for the available telescopes. They will be evaluated on
scientific merit, broader impact to society, credibility of
management plan, data distribution plan, and the value of proposed
deliverables to community. Separate grades in each of these areas
will be combined to determine a final ranking.
- Note that there are a variety of ways to address broader impact, the
NSFs second criterion, including involvement of students or the
inclusion of co-investigators from non-PhD-granting institutions.
- Note that for most surveys, reduced, calibrated images are a
desirable deliverable, as opposed to catalogs of objects.
Following recommendation for support by the NOAO TAC, NOAO
may negotiate an agreement on the deliverables, the manner
in which they will be distributed to the community, and the
schedule for delivery with successful proposers.
- It is imperative that proposers carefully and explicitly justify
the number of nights requested, including allowance for integration
time on program objects and calibration exposures, as well as the
appropriate overheads. No increase for the expected weather
statistics should be included. We intend to grant time that
includes an increase based on statistical weather information that
should allow most surveys to complete their observations. Surveys
will be given one chance in their penultimate year to justify an
additional supplemental allocation if they have suffered from
technical problems at the telescope or weather significantly
worse than average.
Additional Requirements for Survey Programs
A Workshop will
be held in Tucson for all approved programs
each year. Survey teams awarded time will be expected to
meet with one another and with NOAO or other staff, as appropriate.
Progress Reports must also be submitted to the Survey TAC annually.
The Survey TAC will review all progress reports
and may recommend changes in the allocations to previously approved
programs. Proposers will have the opportunity to appeal any changes
recommended by the Survey TAC.
For further information concerning community input
and planning for survey programs, please review the
Final Report of the Survey Working Group.