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National Optical Astronomy Observatory

NOAO Survey Programs

NOAO offers the opportunity to conduct major survey programs on telescopes at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (including SOAR), and Kitt Peak National Observatory. Investigators wishing to conduct surveys using the Gemini telescopes can submit proposals through the Gemini Large and Long Programs TAC. 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 list of approved Survey Programs is available.

Current Status:

Due to the previous time allocations awarded to ongoing surveys, there will be no call for new Survey programs in the 2015B semester. The decision on whether there will be a call for new Surveys in 2016 will be made and announced at a later date. Questions about the Survey Program may be addressed to

No open Survey call at this time.

What is a Survey Program?

A Survey Program 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.

How to Propose a Survey Program

Letters of Intent to propose an NOAO Survey Program must be received by email to no later than 14 February.

Letters should include the information below formatted as follows:

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 Proposal materials are typically updated about one month before each deadline.

Proposals should include:

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:

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.

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NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
Last updated: Feb 2 2015

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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Proposals >   Surveys

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