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Announcement of Opportunity for Large Science Programs Providing New Observing Capabilities for the Mayall 4m Telescope on Kitt Peak

National Science Foundation
Mayall NOAO announces an opportunity to partner with NOAO and the National Science Foundation to pursue a large science program with the Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak and to develop a major observing capability (instrument, software, and archival plans) for the Mayall 4-meter telescope of the Kitt Peak National Observatory for the purpose of enabling large, high impact science programs and improving the capabilities provided as part of the U.S. System of ground-based optical and near-IR telescopes. Projects that use a diverse range of observing requirements (e.g. time of year, lunar phase, etc.) are encouraged. The dual goals of the large science program, as discussed in a recent edition of NOAO Currents are to enable frontier science and to improve the U.S. system of ground-based O/IR facilities. Although there are no restrictions on the type or scale of instrument, NOAO encourages proposals that will build on the Mayall telescope’s strengths, utilizing its unique wide-field capabilities. NOAO has investigated potential wide-field options at both the Cassegrain and Prime foci, and these designs are available to aid those planning proposals.

In exchange for providing the community with a new observing capability for the Mayall, the NSF and NOAO will make available to the successful proposing team dedicated telescope time on the Mayall for their proposed science program. The capability provided by the team must enable frontier science to be carried out by the community, beyond the specific science program of the proposing team. The use of the new capability will be available to the general community through the normal NOAO TAC process during the time the large science program would be carried out and for several years beyond the completion of the proposed project. In the event that no Large Science Proposal meets these requirements, no proposal will be selected. Any selected program is anticipated to use up to 100 nights per year (e.g. the Dark Energy Survey, currently in development, will use the Blanco 4-meter telescope for approximately 100 nights per year for five years). A 500-night allocation on the Mayall represents a significant financial investment by the NSF (approximately $7 million dollars). A successful proposal team can expect to work with a team at NOAO providing technical and scientific expertise.

Letters of intent (LoI) expressing interest are required in order to assist NOAO in selecting members for the review committee and finalizing the proposal requirements. LoIs should be sent to Dr. Buell Jannuzi, Director, Kitt Peak National Observatory,, by March 1, 2010. The LoI should outline the instrument concept, partnership, and proposed science project. Full proposals will be due on October 1, 2010. Proposals should describe in detail the proposed science project and observing capability (instrument, software, and archival plans), a clear description of any modifications that might be necessary to the Mayall, demonstration of adequate funding (or plan to secure funding), and project management plan. Detailed proposal instructions will be available no later than March 31, 2010.

Preference will be given to proposals that have a broad scientific impact, enable science opportunities for the US community of users, and/or enable significant participation by members of the US astronomical community. Proposed instruments should be consistent with a system-wide view of facilities available to the US community as described in the white paper, “NOAO and the O/IR System”, the ReSTAR committee report, and other System development vision documents.

Potential proposers are encouraged to contact Buell Jannuzi at

Comments and advice from the community to NOAO regarding this call are also welcome and can be sent to Buell Jannuzi, who will share such submissions with NOAO Director David Silva and others managing this call for proposals.
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