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Swift Cycle 11 Guest Investigator Program Information

The Swift's Guest Investigator (GI) Program, part of NASA's Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) Announcement, provides opportunities for Guest Investigators (GIs) to carry out basic research relevant to the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) mission. Cycles 1 and 2 were GRB project funding-only cycles, for theory (GRB and non-GRB), ground-based follow-up and new Swift data analysis projects. Cycle 3 included a limited Target of Opportunity (ToO) program on non-GRB targets, triggered by astrophysical events. Cycle 4 expanded the observing program to include non-ToO observations of compelling, non-GRB targets. Cycles 5 and 6 added opportunities for correlative observations of high redshift GRBs, monitoring and Fill-in targets, and was conducted as a 2-phase review. Cycle 7 provided ToO opportunities for GRBs discovered by other space-based missions or ground-based instruments and fewer restrictions on monitoring programs. Cycle 8 added a "Large Programs" proposal category and increased the total number of visits from 1,500 to 2,000. Cycles 9 and 10 added joint observing programs with other facilities (Chandra, XMM-Newton, and INTEGRAL), and expanded the opportunity for correlative observations to non-GRB targets. Cycle 11 retains all these elements, while adding new ones as outlined below.

Proposals are due Thursday, September 25, 2014, 4:30PM EDT (8:30PM GMT).

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New for Cycle 11:

Funding (U.S. GIs only):
It is anticipated that up to $1.2M (depending on the available budget) will be available through this solicitation for the support of proposals at a ~$40k average award level. Proposals requesting funds need to include a budget narrative. As during previous cycles, the detailed cost evaluation will be deferred until Phase 2 (budget review). The funding amount requested in the Phase 2 cost proposal may not exceed the amount proposed in Phase 1. Funds will be released to successful U.S. PIs after the start of FY16 (October 2015).

Joint Swift/NRAO program:
To foster correlative observations, a joint Swift/NRAO observing program has been established, as detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding. By this agreement NRAO permits the Swift GI Program to award up to 5% of NRAO scientific observing time on NRAO's VLA, GBT and VLBA, or up to 200-300 hours per year on each telescope. The allocation of time on the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) is not covered by this agreement. Radio data acquired through the Swift GI Program will be property of the proposers for the standard NRAO 12-month proprietary period. Unless the users petition for an extension of the proprietary period, the data will then become publicly available in the NRAO Archive.
The peer-reviewed Swift GI proposal-evaluation process will identify programs with sufficient merit to be allocated observing time and funding without additional scientific review. The primary criterion for the award of NRAO time is that both Swift and NRAO data are required to meet the scientific objectives of the proposal. NRAO will perform feasibility checks on the proposed observations and reserves the right to reject any observation determined for any reason to be technically unfeasible or to jeopardize NRAO instrumentation.
Only proposals falling in the NRAO Regular proposals and Triggered proposals categories are eligible for observing time through this joint opportunity. NRAO Large Proposals (those requesting 200 hours or more) will not be eligible for time, but will be eligible for funding via the "Correlative Observations" opportunity. All successful NRAO investigators may be eligible for Swift GI funding, provided their observing programs complement the Swift science program. These programs do not necessarily need to involve joint observing programs as detailed above. In making their case for such funding, proposers should address how the use of NRAO time will enhance the Swift science return. For all correlative investigations funded by Swift, rapid public availability of the data or results is strongly encouraged. Public data availability for correlative studies should be discussed in these proposals and will be considered in the evaluation of the proposals.

Science Justification Template:
We encourage you to use the updated LaTeX template 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. If you use your own template, make sure that your proposal is readily legible, and that you include the same sections as in the template.  It is strongly recommended to use a font size of 11pt or larger.

What has not changed compared to the previous Cycle:

Notices of Intent (NOIs): NOIs are not an option.

Cycle 11 will be a 2-Phase review: Phase 1 will consist of the scientific/technical peer review of all proposals. GIs that are successful in Phase 1 will be invited to submit detailed budgets for review in Phase 2, provided the GI is eligible for funding (i.e., is at a US institution).

No NSPIRES proposal submission during Phase 1: All proposals, whether for funding-only or for observation, will be submitted to ARK/RPS. Only Phase-2 budget proposals of accepted proposals will go to NSPIRES.

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 space-based facilities, etc. Time-constrained observations are subject to the following limits:

For coordinated and constrained observations, it is the proposer's responsibility to inform the Swift Science Operations Team (by sending a ToO request) of the observing time window at least one week before observations commence.

Observation Length: Requested observing time is limited to between 1 ks minimum and 40 ks maximum per observation (i.e., a single visit to the target). Because Swift has no continuous viewing zones, all observations longer than 2 ks are likely to be broken into several visits by the Swift science planners.

No more than 2,000 visits will be performed during Cycle 11 (total of all proposal categories).

GRB ToOs: Cycle 11 has the opportunity to propose for GRB ToOs that are detected with instruments other than Swift (e.g., MAXI, Fermi, IPN).

Estimates of ToO trigger probability: In order to help both the reviewers and Swift's schedulers, the target forms for proposed Swift ToO observations require a realistic trigger probability for each source. This is the probability that the proposed source will meet its trigger criteria during Cycle 11.

Theory Proposals: Theory proposals are not restricted to GRB investigations and will be considered provided that they address the degree to which the investigations directly advance Swift science goals.

Changes to Swift Operations: Cycle 11 allows proposals that request changes or additions to current Swift strategies or to perform innovative Swift analysis (GRBs, and non-GRBs). Proposals that request changes to Swift on-board capabilities 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.

Correlative Observations (GRBs and non-GRBs): Proposers can request funding to conduct correlative observations at other wavelengths in support of Swift observations. Proposers should address how the use of their facilities will complement the Swift science program. The extent to which the proposed research will enhance the science return from Swift will be considered in the proposal evaluation process. Proposals who request funding for correlative observations need to clearly demonstrate in their proposal that such data will be rapidly made available to the public.

Special Consideration for correlative observations of high redshift GRBs: To encourage the development of rapid IR ground-based response to potentially high redshift GRBs, special consideration will be given to such projects. Proposals to bring new or enhanced ground-based IR capabilities online may require funding substantially above the average award (e.g., in the ~$100k range of previous ROSES APRA awards). Such budget requests will be considered provided they are strongly justified. In the case of these proposals alone, proposers are allowed to exceed the average $40k budget range.

Fill-In Proposals: No funding will be provided for proposals in the "Fill-in" category, therefore no Phase-2 budget proposal is requested. There is no limit on the number of fill-in targets a proposer can submit. UVOT grism observations are not part of the Fill-in program, and can not be requested through proposals in this category.

Page Limit for Proposals: Proposals for correlative GRBs observations that intend to bring new or enhanced ground-based IR capabilities online have a page limit of 6 pages + 1 page for the budget narrative. Proposals in all other proposal categories have a 4 page limit + 1 page for the budget narrative. No supporting materials (e.g., CV, current and pending support, etc.) are permitted.

Duplication policies: an observation is a duplication of another observation if it is on the same astronomical target or field, and it is performed with the same instrument. It is the responsibility of the proposers to check the proposed observations against the catalog of previously executed observations (see the Swift Archive) or accepted programs (see below). If any duplications exist, they must be identified and justified in the proposal.

UVOT Filter Justification: UVOT observations are specified by an observing mode, which divides the requested observing time appropriately among a group of filters. In an effort to conserve UVOT filter wheel rotations, proposers who wish UVOT observations taken in filters other than "filter of the day" (either the U, UVW1, UVM2, or UVW2 filter that is chosen by the science planners on each particular day) need to provide a strong justification for the choice of the filters. If no strong justification is provided, all observations will be performed in "filter of the day" mode. A list of the available UVOT modes can be found here.

Budget Narrative: Proposers must submit a budget narrative that explains in sufficient detail how the proposed funds will be used to achieve the goals outlined in the proposal. The budget narrative has a 1-page limit that will not count toward the above page limit.

Release of Funds: Funds will be released to successful U.S. PIs after the start of FY16 (October 2015).

Joint Swift/XMM-Newton Program: Proposers interested in making use of Swift time as part of their XMM-Newton science investigation may submit a single proposal in response to the XMM-Newton AO-14. The award of Swift observing time will be made to highly ranked XMM-Newton proposals and will be subject to approval by the Swift Project. Details about the Program elements will be posted on the XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre web site as soon as they become available. No funds will be provided from the Swift Project for such joint Swift/XMM-Newton investigations.

Joint Swift/Chandra Program: Proposers interested in making use of Swift time as part of their Chandra science investigation may submit a single proposal in response to the Chandra Call for Proposals. The award of Swift observing time will be made to highly ranked Chandra proposals and will be subject to approval by the Swift Project. Details about the Program elements will be posted on the Chandra web site as soon as they become available. No funds will be provided from the Swift Project for such joint Swift/Chandra investigations.

Joint Swift/INTEGRAL Program: Proposers interested in making use of Swift time as part of their INTEGRAL science investigation may submit a single proposal in response to the INTEGRAL AO-13. The award of Swift observing time will be made to highly ranked INTEGRAL proposals and will be subject to approval by the Swift Project. Details about the Program elements will be posted on the INTEGRAL web site as soon as they become available. No funds will be provided from the Swift Project for such joint Swift/INTEGRAL investigations.

Swift Cycle 11 Announcement

Document Description
ROSES-2014 NRA NSPIRES web page with links to ROSES-2014 announcement and all amendments, plus links to NRA Proposers Guidebook, NASA Science Plan and more.
ROSES 2014 Appendix D.5 "Swift Guest Investigator Cycle 11" NSPIRES web page with links to the ROSES-2014 Appendix D.5 with all details of the Swift Cycle 11 elements.

Properties of the Swift GI Program

Investigations are to be carried out in the eleventh year of Swift's public observations, i.e., April 2015 through March 2016.

What the Swift GI program is:

What the Swift GI program is NOT:

What's Available in Cycle 11:
Time available for non-ToO targets: 2 Msec
Time available for Fill-in targets: 1 Msec
Time available for ToO targets: 1 Msec
Time available for Large Programs: 1 Msec
Total anticipated funding for all investigations and observations: up to $1.2M

Proposal categories:

The table below gives the available proposal categories:
  Proposal Category Funding/Observation
1. Theoretical GRB and non-GRB Investigations Funding only
2. Correlative GRB observations involving new or enhanced IR capabilities for investigating high-z bursts Funding only
3. Other correlative investigations (GRB and non-GRB) Funding only
4. New Swift Projects (GRB and non GRB) Funding only
5. Swift ToO observations of GRB or non-GRB targets Funding+observations
6. Swift non-ToO observations of non-GRB targets Funding+observations
7. Swift Fill-in targets Observations only
8. Large Programs Funding+observation

Schedule for Swift Cycle 11:

ROSES 2014 NRA Released: February 18, 2014
Notices of Intent due: Option not available
Phase 1 Proposals Due: September 25, 2014, 4:30PM EDT (8:30PM GMT)
Phase 1 Proposal Peer Review: Early December, 2014
Phase 2 Budget Proposals Due: Early January 2015
Swift Cycle 11 Begins: April 1, 2015
Swift Cycle 11 Ends: March 31, 2016

Checklist of Required Items for a Complete Swift Proposal Submission:

Proposers are urged to read carefully the Description of the Swift Guest Investigator Program in the NASA Research Announcement NNH14ZDA001N. Below we distill the highlights.

Required Items for a Complete Swift Cycle 11 submission:

All Proposals:

  1. Swift ARK/RPS cover page and general forms, with title, abstract, GI and Co-I information, and contact information. Also, make sure you have filled in these items:
    • "Proposal Type": select a proposal type from the provided menu.
    • "Anticipated Total Budget": amount of funding you plan to request from NASA if your proposal is accepted. The average award amount is in the 30k$ - 40k$ range, except in special cases of correlative observations of high redshift GRBs. Note that any detailed budget you submit for Phase 2 must be less than or equal to the Anticipated Total Budget entered here.
    • "NASA FTE Commitment": number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) NASA civil servants that would be supported by this proposal, if approved. May be a fraction or zero. Collected for NASA records - does not effect acceptance of the proposal.
    Note: the ARK user account used to enter this information will automatically be recorded as the proposal PI; please file the proposal from the PI's ARK account.
  2. A PDF file containing the text of your proposal, uploaded via the Swift ARK/RPS web site. Guidelines and instructions are described in the 2014 NASA NRA Proposers Guidebook, and in Appendix D.5 Swift Guest Investigator Swift Cycle 11.

    The proposal PDF file submitted via ARK/RPS should only include:

    • Scientific Justification (4 page limit, including figures, tables, and references).
      Important: proposals requesting funding should include a 1-page "Budget Narrative" section that describes in sufficient detail how the funds would be spent and the scale of workforce needed to carry out the project. The Budget Narrative has a 1-page limit that does not count toward the 4-pages limit of the proposal.
    • Note that proposals should have no CV, current & pending support, or any other supporting documents.

Pointed observation proposals (both ToO and non-ToO) must also include:

  1. Electronic submission of one or more Swift ARK/RPS target forms, containing RA & Dec of target, time requested, observing modes, constraints, and trigger criteria if applicable. Please see the Swift GI Program FAQ for details on what types of observations are permitted in Cycle 11. Note that a separate target form must be filled out for every proposed target.

Proposals must be received by September 25, 2014, 4:30PM EDT (8:30PM GMT).

If you have difficulties submitting your proposal or have technical questions about the Swift mission, see our Getting Help section. Proposals submitted after the proposal deadline will not be considered.

Supporting Materials for Submitting Swift Proposals

Getting Help

If you have problems with anything in ARK/RPS, please see the ARK/RPS Quick Help page or the Specific Help for Swift RPS page; questions about ARK/RPS should be sent to the RPS Help Desk.

If you have questions about the Swift GI program, see our Swift GI Program FAQ. If you don't find the answer there, or have questions about the Swift instruments, mission, or simulation tools, contact the Swift Help Desk via our Feedback form.

How to become a Cycle 11 Peer Reviewer

The Swift Cycle 11 Peer Review will take place in the Washington DC metropolitan area in early December 2014. The exact date and location are still to be determined at this point. Reviewers must have a PhD at the time of the Peer Review. If you feel you are qualified to be considered as a reviewer, please send an email to the HEASARC Peer Review Mailbox and mention that you are interested in being a reviewer for Swift Cycle 11.