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Frequently Asked Questions about Swift Cycle 10

Proposals are due Thursday, September 26, 2013, 4:30PM EDT (8:30PM GMT).

Topics

Questions

Foreign GIs (GIs at non-U.S. institutions)

  1. Do you have to be a GI at a U.S. Institution to Propose?
  2. Do I need to do anything special to be a GI on a non-GRB observing proposal if I am at a non-US institution?
  3. Can non-US GIs propose a non-GRB observing proposal and have a US co-I receive the funding?

Funding-only Proposals

  1. How does the "2-Phase Review" process apply to funding-only proposals?
  2. What types of proposals are allowed?
  3. What is the average funding level?
  4. Can proposals be above the average funding level?
  5. How accurate does my "anticipated total budget" for Phase 1 have to be?
  6. Do I submit my proposal to NSPIRES, or to ARK/RPS?
Target of Opportunity (ToO) Proposals (GRBs and non-GRBs)
  1. Can I submit GRBs ToO proposals?
  2. How much time will be allocated to ToO observations?
  3. Will Swift slew to my ToO source autonomously?
  4. How many High and Highest priority ToOs can be accepted in Cycle 10?
  5. What rules and limitations should I be aware of for ToO Swift observations?
  6. What should I put for RA, Dec, and object name if I am proposing observations of a 'yet-to-be-discovered' object?
  7. How should I handle the target form for a "yet-to-be specified" target that is part of a larger target list?
  8. The target form asks for a "trigger probability" - what should I put?

Proposals for non-GRB Observations

  1. What types of non-GRB proposals are allowed?
  2. Can I submit more than one observing proposal as PI?
  3. Will the observations be proprietary?
  4. What is the difference between "AKBAR/RPS", used in Cycle 3, and "ARK/RPS", used in Cycles 4 through 10?
  5. Do I have to submit anything to NSPIRES for Cycle 10?
  6. Can I combine ToO and non-ToO observations in one proposal?
  7. Can I combine Fill-in and non-Fill-in targets in one proposal?
  8. What constitutes a monitoring program?
  9. What are the restrictions on observation length?
  10. What are the restrictions on time-constrained observation?

    Fill-in Target observations

  1. What are Fill-in Targets?
  2. Are Fill-in Proposals funded?
  3. Are there any restrictions on Fill-in Target observations?
  4. How much time will be allocated to Fill-in Targets?
  5. What priority will Fill-in Targets have in Swift's observing schedule?
  6. Will all my accepted Fill-in Targets be observed?
  7. Non-ToO pointed observations (not Fill-in)

  1. How much time will be allocated to non-GRB non-ToO observations?
  2. Will Swift slew to my non-GRB, non-ToO source autonomously?
  3. What priority will non-GRB, non-ToO observations have in Swift's observing schedule?
  4. Am I assured of obtaining all awarded observing time on my non-GRB, non-ToO target?
  5. What rules and limitations should I be aware of for non-GRB, non-ToO Swift observations?

Proposal Format and Submission

  1. Do I have to fill out a Notice of Intent (NOI) to propose?
  2. Do I submit the proposal to NSPIRES, or to ARK/RPS, or both?
  3. What are the page limits for the proposal text?
  4. How accurate does my "anticipated total budget" for Phase 1 have to be?
  5. What is "NASA FTE Commitment"? Do I have to fill it out?
  6. Each proposal needs to address NASA's Strategic Goals. Where can I find them?
  7. Is there a template for the Scientific Justification part of the proposal?
  8. How do I submit the PDF file containing my Scientific Justification?
  9. I submitted my proposal but never received an email confirmation. Was my proposal received?

NRA Reference Materials

  1. Where can I find the ROSES 2013 Announcement and its amendments, including the appendix describing Swift Cycle 10?
  2. Where can I find the NASA Proposers Handbook, and its supplementary material?

Other/Help

  1. Who do I write to if I still have questions?


Answers

Foreign Guest Investigators (GIs at non-U.S. institutions)

  1. 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 U.S. Co-Is.)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


Funding-only Proposals

  1. How does the "2-Phase Review" process apply to funding-only proposals?

    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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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)

  1. 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.
  2. How much time will be allocated to ToO observations?

    1 Ms. A total of one million second of observing time will be made available to ToO proposals.

  3. 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.

  4. How many High and Highest Priority ToOs can be performed in Cycle 10?

    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).

  5. What rules and limitations should I be aware of for ToO Swift observations?

    • 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 details.
    • 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.
  6. 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").
  7. 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. 
  8. 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?" question, above.

Proposals for non-GRB Observations

  1. 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.

    HEASARC's Viewing tool can help you detemine the Sun angle for your source, and other observational parameters.

    Proposals for non-GRB Swift observations fall into three categories:

      ToO observations
      non-ToO observations
      Fill-in targets

    Each type has their own specific restrictions - see the sections in this FAQ on each for further details, or consult the ROSES 2013 Appendix D.5 for Swift Cycle 10. In addition, there are limits on monitoring proposals and limits on the length of an observation.

  2. Can I submit more than one observing proposal as PI?

    Yes, you can submit as many proposals (observing or funding only) as you would like.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 page.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Can I combine Fill-in and non-Fill-in targets in one proposal?

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. What are the restrictions on observation length?

    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.

  10. 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 commence.

Fill-in Target observations

  1. 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 details.
  2. Are Fill-in proposals funded?

  3. No. Fill-in proposals are unfunded.
  4. Are there any restrictions on Fill-in Target observations?

    Yes. Fill-in Targets:
    • cannot be ToO observations
    • must have no observational constraints whatsoever
    • 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 program
    • are not guaranteed to be observed; GIs should have no expectation that their entire list of accepted fill-in targets will be observed

  5. 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.
  6. What priority will Fill-in targets have in Swift's observing schedule?

    The lowest. See the last three bullets in the restrictions on Fill-in Targets question, above.
  7. 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

  1. How much time will be allocated to non-GRB non-ToO observations?

    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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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 schedule.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 interest.



Proposal Format and Submission

  1. Do I have to fill out a Notice of Intent (NOI) to propose?

    No, NOIs are no longer an option.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 D.5 of ROSES 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.

  4. 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 proposal form.
  5. 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 proposal submission.

  6. 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.
  7. Is there a template for the Scientific Justification part of the proposal?

    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 and references).
  8. How do I submit the PDF file containing my Scientific Justification?

    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 proposal submission guidelines on the Swift Cycle 10 GI Information Web page.
  9. I submitted my proposal but never received an email conformation. Was my proposal received?

    The ARK 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

  1. Where can I find the ROSES 2013 Announcement (NRA) and its amendments, including the appendix describing Swift Cycle 10?

    The ROSES 2013 NRA and the specific ROSES 2013 Appendix D.5 "Swift Guest Investigator Cycle 10" web pages are available from NSPIRES.

  2. Where can I find the NRA Proposers Handbook, and it's supplementary material?

    The NRA Proposers Guidebook and any clarifications are found on the NRA Proposers Guidebook page.


Other

  1. 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.