Frequently Asked Questions about
Swift Cycle 10
are due Thursday,
September 26, 2013, 4:30PM EDT (8:30PM GMT).
Foreign GIs (GIs at non-U.S. institutions)
- Do you have to be a GI at a U.S. Institution
- Do I need to do anything special to be
a GI on a non-GRB observing proposal if I am at a non-US
- Can non-US GIs propose a non-GRB
observing proposal and have a US co-I receive the funding?
of Opportunity (ToO) Proposals (GRBs and non-GRBs)
- How does the "2-Phase Review" process
apply to funding-only proposals?
- What types of proposals are allowed?
- What is the average funding level?
- Can proposals be above the average
- How accurate does my "anticipated total
budget" for Phase 1 have to be?
- Do I submit my proposal to NSPIRES, or
- Can I submit GRBs ToO proposals?
- How much time will be
allocated to ToO observations?
- Will Swift slew to my ToO
- How many High and Highest
priority ToOs can be accepted in Cycle 10?
- What rules and limitations
should I be aware of for ToO Swift observations?
- What should I put for RA, Dec,
and object name if I am proposing observations of a
- How should I handle the
target form for a "yet-to-be specified" target that is part of
a larger target list?
- The target form asks for a
"trigger probability" - what should I put?
- What types of non-GRB proposals are
- Can I submit more than one observing
proposal as PI?
- Will the observations be proprietary?
- What is the difference between "AKBAR/RPS",
used in Cycle 3, and "ARK/RPS", used in Cycles 4 through 10?
- Do I have to submit anything to NSPIRES
for Cycle 10?
- Can I combine ToO and non-ToO
observations in one proposal?
- Can I combine Fill-in and non-Fill-in
targets in one proposal?
- What constitutes a monitoring program?
- What are the restrictions on observation
- What are the restrictions on
Fill-in Target observations
- What are Fill-in Targets?
- Are Fill-in Proposals funded?
- Are there any restrictions on Fill-in
- How much time will be allocated to Fill-in
- What priority will Fill-in Targets have
in Swift's observing schedule?
- Will all my accepted Fill-in Targets be
Non-ToO pointed observations (not Fill-in)
- How much time will be allocated to non-GRB
- Will Swift slew to my non-GRB, non-ToO
- What priority will non-GRB, non-ToO
observations have in Swift's observing schedule?
- Am I assured of obtaining all awarded
observing time on my non-GRB, non-ToO target?
- What rules and limitations should I be aware
of for non-GRB, non-ToO Swift observations?
Proposal Format and Submission
- Do I have to fill out a Notice of Intent (NOI)
- Do I submit the proposal to NSPIRES, or
to ARK/RPS, or both?
- What are the page limits for the proposal
- How accurate does my "anticipated total
budget" for Phase 1 have to be?
- What is "NASA FTE Commitment"? Do I have to
fill it out?
- Each proposal needs to address NASA's
Strategic Goals. Where can I find them?
- Is there a template for the
Scientific Justification part of the proposal?
- How do I submit the PDF file containing my
- I submitted my proposal but never
received an email confirmation. Was my proposal received?
NRA Reference Materials
- Where can I find the ROSES 2013 Announcement
and its amendments, including the appendix describing Swift
- Where can I find the NASA Proposers
Handbook, and its supplementary material?
- Who do I write to if I still have questions?
Foreign Guest Investigators (GIs at non-U.S. institutions)
Do you have to be a GI at a U.S. Institution to Propose?
No. GIs at non-U.S. institutions may submit
proposals for observing time only. GIs at non-U.S.
institutions are not eligible for funding. (And therefore may
not submit "funding only" proposals, even if they would have
Do I need to do anything special to be a GI on a non-GRB
observing proposal if I am at a non-U.S. institution?
No. There is no need to "affiliate" with the Swift
Science Center, as in previous years. On your proposal
(submitted to ARK/RPS), you may give your home institution and
submit the forms yourself. For further instructions on
submitting a Swift Cycle 10 proposal, see our Cycle 10 Guest
Investigator Program Web page.
Can non-U.S. GIs propose a non-GRB observing proposal and
have a U.S. co-I receive the funding?
No. The US collaborator must be the GI in order for
him/her to receive funding.
How does the "2-Phase Review" process apply to funding-only
Proposals for funding only will submit a cover page, general
form, and scientific justification to Swift
ARK/RPS for Phase 1 of Swift Cycle 10. The general form
asks for the "anticipated total budget"
and the scientific justification should include a 1-page budget
narrative that describes at a high level how funds would be
spent and the scale of workforce needed for the project. The
Phase 1 proposal will be reviewed for scientific merit (the main
budget consideration will be whether the anticipated budget
falls at or below the average award amount). The Phase 1 review
will determine the accepted Swift Cycle 10 program. GIs with
successful Phase 1 proposals will then be invited to submit a
detailed budget proposal for Phase 2. The Phase 2 review will
finalize the funding for all accepted proposals. (Note that the
budget proposed for Phase 2 cannot exceed the anticipated total
budget submitted in Phase 1.) See our Swift Cycle 10 Web
page for further details.
What types of proposals are allowed?
The Swift project will provide funds for three broad areas of
research: theoretical investigations (GRBs and
non-GRBs), follow-up observations (GRBs and non-GRBs),
new GRB projects. In Cycle 10, Swift would especially like
to encourage the development of rapid IR ground-based response
to potentially high redshift GRBs, therefore special
consideration will be given to such projects. Proposals to
develop these capabilities will be allowed to exceed the average
funding level for all other proposals. Cycle 10 will also
allow proposals that request
changes or additions to current Swift strategies to detect or
observe GRBs or to perform innovate Swift GRB analysis.
Proposals that request changes to Swift onboard capabilities
(e.g., an updated or revised on-board catalog of sources) or
operational procedures may require special scrutiny during the
review process and may require approval by the Swift
Configuration Control Board before implementation. Investigators
who consider such proposals need to consult
with the Swift team prior to proposal submission. Cycle 10
also has the opportunity to propose for GRB ToO proposals for GRBs
that were detected with instruments other than Swift (e.g.,
Fermi, MAXI, etc). Cycle 10 includes the "Large Programs" proposal category
for investigations requesting more than 100 targets or more than
100 ks total exposure time.
What is the average funding level?
The total expected program budget is ~$1.2M, with an average
funding level of ~$40k for funded proposals. Budgets should be
below or at this average funding level for the total cost to
NASA (including overhead). Proposals requesting more than the
average budget will need to provide a detailed and compelling
cost justification. The only exception is for development of
rapid IR ground-based response to potentially high redshift GRBs
(see next question).
Can proposals be above the average funding level?
Yes: proposals to develop rapid IR ground-based response
to potentially high redshift GRBs receive special consideration
for Swift Cycle 10; these are allowed to exceed the average
funding level. Budgets for such projects may be in the $100K
range, provided they are strongly
justified. Please note that "$100K range" is very
broad, and could include a range between $30k and $150K for
outfitting a telescope with an IR spectrograph, for example.
Target of Opportunity Proposals (GRBs and non GRBs)
Can I submit GRBs ToO proposals?
Yes. Cycle 10 has the
added opportunity to propose for GRB ToO proposals for GRBs that
were detected with instruments other than Swift (e.g., Fermi,
MAXI, etc). Such proposals should be submitted in the category
"5. Swift ToO Observations (observation and funding for U.S.
GIs)". Please note that you cannot mix GRB and non-GRB ToO
targets in one proposal. If you wish to perform both GRB and
non-GRB ToOs, you must submit two (or more) separate proposals.
GRB ToO observations will have no proprietary data period and
all observations will be publically available immediately.
How much time will be allocated to
1 Ms. A total of one million second of observing
time will be made available to ToO proposals.
Will Swift slew to my ToO source autonomously?
No. See the explanation for "Will Swift slew to my non-GRB,
non-ToO source autonomously?" below.
How many High and Highest Priority ToOs can be performed in
There are no restrictions how many Highest Priority and High
Priority ToOs can be performed for Cycle 10. Please keep in
mind that Highest Priority proposals alert of lot of people in
the Swift team (and
wake them up at night).
What rules and limitations should I be aware of for ToO
- Clearly describe how your proposal capitalizes on the unique capabilities of Swift.
- Give detailed trigger criteria. There is a text box
on the ARK/RPS proposal form for this.
- Give a realistic, estimated trigger probability for
each target. The probability should be a fraction,
from 0.0 (unlikely) to 1.0 (highly likely), and represent
the chance that the target will meet the trigger criteria
during Swift Cycle 10 (April 1, 2014 - March 31, 2015). This
is a required field on the Swift ARK/RPS form.
- There are limits on observation length. Please see
our FAQ question "What are
the restrictions on observation length?" for further
- There are restrictions on monitoring programs,
where "monitoring" is defined as two or more observations of
the same target. Please see our FAQ question about monitoring, above.
- You may NOT combine ToO and non-ToO observations in a
single proposal. If you wish to perform both ToO and
non-ToO observations, please see the guidelines in the
answer to our FAQ question, "Can I combine ToO and
non-ToO observations in a single proposal?".
- There is no carry-over time from Cycle 9 to Cycle 10.
Therefore, GIs with accepted Cycle 9 ToO proposals which
have not yet triggered should repropose for Cycle 10, if
they still wish to have the observation carried out in Cycle
10. Likewise, proposers should be aware that any ToO
proposals accepted for Cycle 10 will not be carried over
into Cycle 11 if they are not triggered during Cycle 10.
What should I put for RA, Dec, and object name if I am
proposing observations of a "yet-to-be-discovered"?
Please use 0.0 for the R.A. and Dec coordinates and a genetic
target name (e.g., "tidal disruption event", "magnetar").
How should I handle the target form for a "yet-to-be
specified" target that is part of a larger target list?
If you want to trigger on only one target out of a sample of
multiple targets, only add one target form in ARK/RPS and make
sure that the total observing time matches what you are asking
for. Use 0.0 for the R.A. and Dec coordinates and chose a
generic name for your target (e.g. "AGN 1"). Explain your
target list in the text of the proposal.
The target form asks for a "trigger
probability" - what should I put?
See the 3rd bullet in the answer to our "What rules and limitations should
I be aware of for non-GRB ToO Swift observations?"
Proposals for non-GRB Observations
What types of non-GRB proposals are allowed?
Any non-GRB proposal should have mild impact on the GRB
detecting and follow-up schedule. This means it should not be
too close to the Sun (>9 hours Sun angle), not require
uninterrupted viewing or highly specific start or stop times.
tool can help you detemine the Sun angle for your source, and
other observational parameters.
Proposals for non-GRB Swift observations fall into three
Each type has their own specific restrictions - see the sections
in this FAQ on each for further details, or consult the
D.5 for Swift Cycle 10. In addition, there are limits on
monitoring proposals and limits on the
length of an observation.
Can I submit more than one observing proposal as PI?
Yes, you can submit
as many proposals (observing or funding only) as you would
Will the non-GRB observations be proprietary?
No. Swift does not perform proprietary observations.
All observations will be publically available immediately.
Non-GRB proposers are eligible for funds to help analyze the
observations they propose.
What is the difference between "AKBAR/RPS", used in Cycle 3,
and "ARK/RPS", used in Cycles 4 through 10?
Only the name. It is literally the same software and
Web site, and your login and associated information remains
the same, if you registered with AKBAR/RPS. For more
information on using ARK/RPS, see our Swift Cycle 10 GI
Do I have to submit anything to NSPIRES for Cycle 10?
Not during Phase 1. Both the scientific/technical
proposal submission will be through ARK/RPS for
Swift Cycle 10 Phase 1, including cover page, general form,
target forms, and upload of proposal text. Successful Phase 1
proposers will then be told where to submit budget proposals
for review in Phase 2. For more info on submitting proposals,
see our Swift
Cycle 10 GI page.
Can I combine ToO and non-ToO observations in one proposal?
No. A proposal must be either ToO or non-ToO; it
cannot be both. If you wish to perform both non-ToO and ToO
observations of the same source, you must submit two separate
proposals. Please make sure the proposals have different
titles, so they can be easily distinguished (e.g., "ToO
observations of SRC-XYZ" and "non-ToO observations of
SRC-XYZ") Also, if the proposals should be reviewed together
(e.g., if you will trigger the ToO based on results from the
non-ToO), then please state in your abstract that one proposal
is the companion to the other, and specify the title of the
other proposal. We will use that information to make sure they
are reviewed by the same panel.
Can I combine Fill-in and non-Fill-in targets in one
No. A proposal for observation must be one of three
types: ToO, non-ToO, or Fill-in. Targets in a proposal must
all be of the given type. The ARK/RPS cover page form requires
you to select one of these proposal types, and your targets
will then be considered in that category.
What constitutes a monitoring program?
Monitoring programs are defined as programs requiring two or
more observations (or "visits", where each "visit" is a
scheduled observation of a particular target) to the same
object. No more than 2,000 visits will be accepted in Cycle 10
(total for all proposal categories). Please note the
restrictions on the observations lengths and time windows below.
What are the restrictions on
Requested observing time is limited to between 1 ks (minimum)
and 40 ks (maximum) per observation. The total time
requested for the source may consist of several observations.
Use the "Number of Observations" field on the ARK/RPS form to
state how many observations, and put the total time (ie., adding
up all observations) in the target form. Don't worry if you
don't want the total time divided evenly among the observations.
For example, suppose you want the first observation of your
source to be 40 ks, and 3 later observations of 5 ks each. On
the ARK/RPS target form, you would put "num_obs" as 4 (4 total
observations); "Total Observation Time" as 55 ksec (40+5+5+5);
and in the "Remarks" section, you would put "First observation
should be 40 ks, followed by 3 observations of 5 ks each." If
the observations are to be constrained by time, phase, or other
criteria, fill out the Constraints section of the form. Then, in
the scientific justification, you should explain why this
observing strategy is necessary for your science.
Also note that a single observation will most likely be
broken up over several orbits, and involve multiple pointings,
in order to accommodate Swift's schedule. Proposers should not assume
continous, uninterrupted viewing of their targets for any
observation longer than 2 ksec.
What are the Restrictions on Time-Constrained Observations?
Time-constrained observations are
defined as observations that have to be performed within a certain
time window. These can be ToOs or non-ToOs, either monitoring or
non-monitoring observations, but not Fill-in observations. These
include phase-constrained proposals, coordinated observing
campaigns with ground- or pace-based facilities, etc.
Time-constrained observations are subject to the following limits:
- The window duration must exceed 3 hours.
- No more than 500 time-constrained observations will be
accepted for Cycle 10.
For coordinated and constrained observations, it is the proposer's
responsibility to inform the Swift Science Operations Team of the
observing time window at least one week before observations
Fill-in Target observations
What are Fill-in targets?
Fill-in targets provide a set of peer-reviewed targets to be
used to fill in gaps in the pre-planned science timeline.
They were first introduced during Cycle 6 and are a separate
proposal category, distinct from ToO and regular non-ToO
observations. Please see the next two questions for further
Are Fill-in proposals funded?
No. Fill-in proposals are
Are there any restrictions on Fill-in Target observations?
Yes. Fill-in Targets:
- cannot be ToO observations
- must have no observational constraints
- can only be observed once (i.e., no multiple
observations of the same region in the sky)
- previous restrictions of the maximum number of targets per
proposer have been removed (i.e., among all fill-in target
proposals for that proposer)
- will be scheduled as needed, after GRB follow-up, ToO, and
regular non-ToO observations (i.e., they are lower priority
than all of these)
- will be added to the observing program at the discretion
of the science operations team to maximize the Swift science
- are not guaranteed to be observed; GIs should have no
expectation that their entire list of accepted fill-in
targets will be observed
How much time will be allocated to Fill-in targets?
1 Ms. A total of one million seconds of observering time
will be made available for Fill-in targets in Cycle 10.
What priority will Fill-in targets have in Swift's observing
The lowest. See the last three bullets in the restrictions on Fill-in Targets question,
Will all my accepted Fill-in targets be observed?
There is no guarantee that Fill-in targets will be observed.
See the last bullet in the restrictions on
Fill-in targets question, above. However, every effort
will be made to observe at least 80% of all Fill-in targets
during Cycle 10. During previous Cycles, the vaste majority of
all Fill-In targets have been observed.
Non-ToO pointed observations
How much time will be allocated to non-GRB non-ToO
2 Ms. A total of 2 million seconds of observing
time will be made available to the non-ToO GO program during
Cycle 10. Note that the Fill-in Target program is separate,
and has its own time allocation (1 Ms).
Will Swift slew to my non-GRB, non-ToO source autonomously?
No. Swift GI observations will be performed only as
the result of an uploaded ground command through the normal
planning process and will not be slewed to autonomously.
What priority will non-GRB, non-ToO observations have in
Swift's observing schedule?
Low. GI observations will have a lower scheduling
priority than GRBs or ToOs and will be observed on a
best-effort basis when time is available in the observing
Am I assured of obtaining all awarded observing time on my
non-GRB, non-ToO target?
No. Because of Swift's observing restrictions,
successful GIs should be aware that they are not assured 100
percent of the time awarded. Every effort will be made to
observe 80% or more of an accepted program within schedule
limitations of the mission.
What rules and limitations should I be aware of for non-GRB,
non-ToO Swift observations?
- There is no carry-over time from Cycle 9 to Cycle 10.
Therefore, GIs whose observing programs are not completed in
Cycle 9 will be required to repropose in Cycle 10 if they
wish to acquire more observing time on their targets of
Proposal Format and Submission
Do I have to fill out a Notice of Intent (NOI) to propose?
No, NOIs are no longer an option.
Do I submit the proposal to NSPIRES, or to ARK/RPS, or both?
All proposals for Phase 1 of Swift Cycle 10 go to ARK/RPS.
ARK/RPS will be
the sole proposal submission site for all proposals (both those
for funding-only and those which include observations). There is
no NSPIRES proposal submission for Phase 1 of Cycle 10.
What are the page limits for the proposal text?
4 pages total for scientific justification, figures,
tables, and references. Proposals for correlative GRB
observations that intend to bring new or enhanced ground-based
IR capabilities online have a page limit of 6 pages. The page
limits are discussed in Appendix
2013 "Swift Guest Investigator - Cycle 10". Do not submit a GI Vita,
current & pending support, or any other supporting
documentation. Please note: if you are requesting
funding should your proposal be accepted, please include a
budget narrative ("cost overview") that describes in
sufficient detail how the funds would be used and the scale of
the workforce needed to carry out the proposed work. The budget narrative has a 1-page
limit that does NOT count toward the overall page limit.
We encourage you to use our LaTeX
template and MS Word templates (for Word
2008 or Word
97) for writing the scientific justification.
How accurate does my "anticipated total budget" for Phase 1
have to be?
You may not exceed the Phase 1 "anticipated total budget" in
your detailed budget for Phase 2. If your proposal is
accepted in Phase 1, you will be asked to submit a detailed
budget for Phase 2. This detailed budget cannot exceed the
anticipated total budget you input on your Phase 1 general
What is "NASA FTE Commitment"? Do I have to fill it out?
The number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) NASA civil servants
that would be supported by this proposal, if approved. This may
be a fraction or zero. It is collected for NASA records, and
does not affect acceptance of the proposal. This is required for
Each proposal needs to address one or more NASA's Strategic
Goals. Where can I find them?
NASA's Strategic Goals are outlined in the 2011
NASA Strategic Plan. Most proposals address:
- Outcome 2.4: Discover how the universe works, explore how
it began and evolved, and search for Earth-like planets.
- Objective 2.4.1: Improve understanding of the origin and
destiny of the universe, and the nature of black holes, dark
energy, dark matter, and gravity.
- Objective 2.4.2: Improve understanding of the many
phenomena and processes associated with galaxy, stellar, and
planetary system formation and evolution from the earliest
epochs to today.
Is there a template for the Scientific Justification part of
Yes. We highly encourage the use of the LaTeX template or MS
Word template (for Word
2008 or Word
97) for the scientific part of the proposal (i.e., the
written text component of the proposal). The style files needed
to compile the LaTeX file can be found here. Please note that the
templates have a small page margin to maximize the space for
your scientific justification. If you use your own template,
make sure that you include the same sections as in the template.
No font size smaller than 11pt is allowed (incl. Figure captions
How do I submit the PDF file containing my Scientific
After you hit "submit" in ARK/RPS, you will see a button that
says "upload your PDF". Please do not upload a CV or any other supporting
documents, just the Scientific Justification as described in the
submission guidelines on the Swift Cycle 10 GI Information
I submitted my proposal but never received an email
conformation. Was my proposal received?
FAQ has an answer to this question. In short, you need to
check a box in your ARK profile and turn email receipts on.
NRA Reference Materials
Where can I find the ROSES 2013 Announcement (NRA) and its
amendments, including the appendix describing Swift Cycle 10?
2013 NRA and the specific ROSES
"Swift Guest Investigator Cycle 10" web pages are
available from NSPIRES.
Where can I find the NRA Proposers Handbook, and it's
The NRA Proposers Guidebook and any clarifications are found
on the NRA
Proposers Guidebook page.
Who do I write to if I still have questions?
If you have questions about any of the above, or similar,
items, write to the Swift Science Center via our Feedback form.
If you have questions about how to submit a proposal for
Swift Cycle 10, please see our Cycle 10 Guest
Investigator Program Web page. It contains instructions,
links, supporting materials, and help desk addresses for
support with proposal submission.