NOAO Web Observing Proposal - Online Help

Online Help for the NOAO

Survey Observing Proposal Web Form

The text below contains detailed information about what is required in each field of the Web proposal form for Survey Proposals. Both Web proposal forms and proposals submitted electronically by email must be received by 11:59pm MST Mondayy evening October 1, 2018 to be considered for observing time. Survey proposals will only be accepted from investigators who submitted a letter of intent by August 15, 2018. Observing time for Survey Programs submitted during this proposal period will begin in the 2019A or 2019B semesters.


NOAO makes a substantial amount of time available on most facilities to which it provides access for surveys. Surveys are not merely large-scale projects or projects that aim to study complete samples. A survey is a significant observational program which

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 processed.

It is expected that to undertake a survey requires a considerable commitment of resources. NOAO's contribution will be telescope time, instrumental capabilities, some expertise in the areas of pipeline data reduction and archiving. The proposer is expected to provide manpower to plan and make the observations, reduce the data, and make the final database available to the community in a useful way. Because these are commitments of significant resources on both sides, the proposal for a survey requires a greater degree of explanation than does a proposal for a standard program. For the justification, note that the criteria by which a survey is evaluated are somewhat different -- items like how the data could be used afterward and how much of an educational component play a role. The "Experimental Design" and "Management Plan" sections are provided in which the proposer is expected to explain in detail how the survey will be carried out and where the resources will come from. A key part of the proposal is clearly demonstrating the total time allocation required to complete the survey on the presumption of good weather. We will evaluate the need for augmenting the allocation requested to allow for bad weather. Approved surveys may additionally apply for augmentation in their final year of operation to allow for lost time. Read the instructions carefully.


Survey proposals are evaluated by a special survey Time Allocation Committee (TAC). Membership of the TAC is drawn from the community. The survey program letters of intent are used to indicate the astronomical areas of expertise required to evaluate the anticipated survey proposals. The TAC is convened in a two-day meeting, the first day of which is devoted to presentations from the existing survey teams on their scientific, observational, and data analysis progress. As part of the survey program, we request that all survey program PIs or their representatives attend this annual meeting. The second day of the meeting is used by the TAC to evaluate new survey proposals and any requests for augmentation by the existing programs. Survey programs will be graded separately in three categories:

Approved survey programs will be drawn from a ranked list based on the combination of grades from all three categories.


  1. Be sure to read the documentation available on the proposal form home page that deals with changes to the proposal form and process, details about how to use the Web form, and instrument lists and availability.

  2. Investigators have two submission options.

    • Web submission. The proposal may be completed through the Web form attaching figures and/or text as noted in the instructions. The "Submit Proposal" button on the Web form displays a final check page - the proposal may then be submitted from this page to the proposal queue for consideration for observing time, or the investigator can choose to go back and make modifications to the proposal before final submission. Once the proposal has been submitted to the proposal queue it may no longer be modified.

    • File upload Once required general, investigator and run information has been completed on the Web form, the "Email LaTeX File" button becomes activated, and you can request that the partially completed LaTeX template be emailed back to you for editing locally. The completed LaTeX proposal form and any figures may then be submitted by by uploading them at

  3. If you are using the Web proposal submission process then be sure that you have included all of your figures as file attachments to your proposal. We have no way of dealing with "mixed" proposals in which part of the proposal is submitted via the Web and the rest is sent by email. You may of course use the Web proposal form to create the LaTeX version of your proposal and then submit it and any figures by electronic mail, being certain to edit the LaTeX file - that was returned to you as an option on the Web form - with the correct figure information, as needed.

  4. Before submitting your Web proposal form, be sure you have corrected any LaTeX errors and viewed the PostScript or PDF version of the proposal to make certain that it looks the way that you wish the review panels to see it.


You are asked to enter some general information associated with your proposal in this section of the Web proposal form.


Only the principal investigator and the first six co-investigators of a survey team will appear on your copy of the LaTeX-processed proposal. Any additional investigators, however, will be included in our database and available to the review panel.

Please complete all the fields for each investigator as noted. Complete address information for the PI is necessary for receiving correspondence related to your survey proposal.



Please enter the specified details for each Observatory-Telescope-Instrument combination that you are requesting. The Observatory - Telescope combinations that you indicated on the previous page are listed along with the information needed to complete the specifications.

Several instrument configuration parameters are requested. Fill these in as appropriate for each run. If you have questions about any of the parameters check out the appropriate instrument manual on the "Instrument Lists" page off the proposal home page.

There are two text fields in this section of the proposal form. These entries must be LaTeX-compatible. You may use LaTeX commands to indicate special symbols, inline math or equations, or tables. See our LaTeX Pointers document for help. You can either enter the text directly in the form provided (cutting and pasting works well, too) or in the case of the technical description attach a file that has been previously prepared.


There are six parts to this section of the Web proposal form. Be sure to fill out each part. Survey proposals are allowed no more than 8 pages total for the Scientific Justification, Experimental Design, Management Plan, Other Facilities, Release of Data, and Past Use sections, including figures and references.

These entries must be LaTeX-compatible. You may use LaTeX commands to indicate special symbols, inline math or equations, or tables. See our LaTeX Pointers document for help. You can either enter the text directly in the form provided (cutting and pasting works well, too) or attach a file that has been previously prepared.

HINT: If you are doing multiple cuts/pastes into the same form window, be sure to set the cursor in the form window with the left mouse button just before you paste in the information with the middle mouse button. Note that you should only cut and paste from a text window and not from an editor like WORD where special characters may be carried along with the text and cause problems later on down the processing chain.

Part 1: Abstract of Scientific Justification

Give a general abstract of the scientific justification appropriate for a non-specialist. Limit yourself to approximately 175 words. Abstracts of accepted proposals will be made publicly available.

Part 2: Scientific Justification

Give the scientific justification for the proposed observations. Make sure that you discuss:

Also discuss ancillary benefits:

Figures that are included with this proposal may be referenced from this or other sections of the proposal, i.e., Figure 1, Figure 2, or Figure 3. Figures will appear following the scientific justification. Do NOT use LaTeX commands for embedding figures into this section, however.

References may be included at the end of this section using the "reference" environment, as in the example below (journal commands are compatible with AASTeX v4.0):

\reference Armandroff \& Massey 1991 \aj, 102, 927.
\reference Berkhuijsen \& Humphreys 1989 \aap, 214, 68.
\reference Massey 1993 in Massive Stars: Their Lives in the Interstellar
  Medium (Review), ed. J. P. Cassinelli and E. B. Churchwell, p. 168.
\reference Massey \& Armandroff 1999, in prep.

Part 3: Experimental Design

This section should consist of text (or LaTeX-coded tables) only. Describe the survey experimental design and the observations planned in detail. Justify choice of telescope, instrument, and sensitivity goals in terms of the survey science goals. A key part of the survey proposal process is to justify the total duration of the program both in terms of the number of nights and the number and distribution of observing runs required. Please show explicitly how on-target exposure time, setup, and calibration requirements determine these parameters. Please do not include any overhead or allowance for bad weather. Based on a clear understanding of your observational strategy as outlined in this section, we will evaluate the need for augmenting the allocation to allow for bad weather. Additional items that should be discussed in this section include:

This section must list all observing runs requested, including telescope, instrument, semester (e.g., 2013B, 2014A, 2014B...) and number of nights.

Part 4: Management Plan

This section should consist of text (or LaTeX-coded tables) only. The Management plan should describe the overall plan for conducting the proposed survey. Be sure to include:

Part 5: Use of Other Facilities or Resources

This section should consist of text only (no figures). Please limit to about a half page of printed text.

We are interested in understanding how observations made through NOAO observing opportunities complement or support data from other facilities both on the ground and in space.

Please describe how the proposed observations complement data from other facilities, including private observatories and both ground- and space-based telescopes. In addressing this question, take a broad view of your research program. Are the data to be obtained through this proposal going to help select samples for detailed observations using larger telescopes or from space observatories? Are these data going to be directly combined with data obtained elsewhere to test a hypothesis? Will these observations have relevance to other observations, even though the proposal stands on its own? For each of these other facilities, indicate the nature of the observations (yours or those of others), and describe the importance of the observations proposed here in the context of the entire program. Do you have an NSF grant that would provide resources to support the data processing, analysis, and publication of the observations proposed here.

Part 6: Release of Data

Describe the data products (reduced observations, single or stacked images, spectra, object catalogues, and so on) to be releases, as well as the timeline and mechanism of their release to the community. Please differentiate between intermediate products developed during the execution of the survey versus the final final products likely to be produced after the full observations have been obtained.

Part 7: Previous Use of NOAO Facilities

How effectively have you used NOAO telescope time in the past? List allocations of telescope time on NOAO facilities to the Principal Investigator during the past 2 years, together with the current status of the data (cite publications where appropriate). Mark any allocations of time related to the current proposal with a \relatedwork{} command.


Target tables provided in this section are required for all queue or service runs and are optional for classical observing. The information entered in these tables will be formatted for you as LaTeX tables and placed at the end of the appropriate run details section in the printed copy. Details about these target tables are provided on a separate page off the proposal home page - read this information before starting your tables.

Since target tables are tied to specific telescope-instrument combinations (runs), you may not start a target table for a run until the run has been specified on the "Enter Observing Runs" page.

Note that for iterative targets, only the parameters that need to be changed have to be specified. Once a parameter is specified in the table, it is retained until explicitly changed.

The fields in the target tables include:

  Object ID            specify a unique 3-digit number for each target
  Object               20 characters maximum
  RA                   e.g., xx:xx:xx.x
  DEC                  e.g., +-xx:xx:xx.x
  Epoch                e.g., 1950.3
  Exposure time        WIYN: in seconds PER EXPOSURE
  Number of exposures
  Days from new moon   use a number 0-14
  Sky condition        use "spec" or "phot"
  Seeing               max allowable PSF FWHM (arcsecs)
  Comment              20 characters maximum


Each proposal may include up to three figures and captions. For Web-prepared proposals two figure files may be placed side-by-side in one figure - this would be equivalent to \plottwo in LaTeX. The figure files should be well-behaved Encapsulated PostScript files. We will recompute a new bounding box for each figure file that is "attached" just in case the original bounding box is off a bit. If the "rotate" option is selected we will rotate the figure file and then compute a new bounding box for this rotated figure. All of these operations will modify the original PostScript figure file. If the figure contains only one figure file a "scaling factor" will be applied if that option is selected.

We will automatically place the figures for your Web-prepared proposal for you at the end of the "Scientific Justification" section of your proposal (please do not include any LaTeX figure commands in the "Scientific Justification", or any other part of your proposal form). You may adjust the "scaling factor" for single figures to improve the overall appearance of the figures in your proposal, as needed (use the "View PS File" button). The "scale" option is a no-op for side-by-side figures. Note that it may not be practical to submit figure files larger than 1 Mb through the Web proposal process.

If you plan to submit your proposal using the Web submission process then any figures that are part of your proposal must be "attached" (as unencoded files) to this proposal through the Web form provided. We ask that you not submit your proposal using the Web form and then plan to send the figures separately by email - we have no way to handle a "mixed" submission. You may, however, use the Web form to prepare your proposal, including any captions to your figures, and then have the LaTeX form emailed back to you for submission through the email submission process, if for some reason you can not "attach" your figures. Edit the returned LaTeX file, as needed, to correctly identify and scale your figures before you submit the proposal by email (instructions are in the LaTeX template). NOTE: If you plan to LaTeX your proposal locally and include figures you must have resident on your system an epsf.sty file - if you do not have this file you can FTP a copy from our anonymous FTP site at in the noao directory.

We do urge you, of course, to use the figure "attachment" option. If you are having problems with your figures, e.g., they will not place on the figure page correctly, perhaps we can assist you. Contact us at, including your username for the proposal in question and the type of problem you are experiencing; we may be able to intervene at our end and fix things so they work for you.


If you are experiencing figure placement problems with the proposal that you are going to send to us by electronic mail you may be having "BoundingBox" problems. In order for the \plotone and \plottwo commands to work properly your figure file must be an Encapsulated PostScript file with a reasonable "BoundingBox".

If you continue to have problems do not get discouraged. Contact us at - we may be able to assist you.

Updated: 1Mar2013