The Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory Guest Investigator - Cycle 16

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, 10 and 11 added joint observing programs with other facilities (Chandra, XMM-Newton, NRAO and INTEGRAL), and expanded the opportunity for correlative observations to non-GRB targets. Cycle 12 added a "Key Projects" category and removed the restriction on the maximum exposure for Fill-In targets. In Cycle 13 restrictions on time constrained observations were lifted, and Cycle 14 offered the joint program with NuSTAR.

Cycle 16 retains all these elements, while adding new ones as outlined below.

Proposals are due Thursday, September 26, 2019, 7:30 PM EDT.

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New for Cycle 16:

Funding (U.S. GIs only):

It is anticipated that up to $1.4M (depending on the available budget) will be available through this solicitation for the support of proposals at a ~$35-40k 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 FY21 (October 2020).

What has not changed compared to the previous Cycle:

Science Justification Template:

We encourage you to use the updated LaTeX template or the updated MS Word 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. Proposals that exceed our page limit, are deemed poorly readable or are missing any required sections will be penalized.

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

Cycle 16 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 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:

There are no restrictions on the maximum number of highest- and high-priority ToOs that will be performed during Cycle 16. The previous limitation that no more than 500 time-constrained observations could be performed has been removed. There is no limit to the maximum number of time-constrained observations that will be accepted in Cycle 16.

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 16 (total of all proposal categories).

GRB ToOs: GIs can 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 16.

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 16 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 team 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. When applicable, proposers are encouraged to explicitly state the proposal number of their accepted observing proposals, the total amount of time awarded, and the period of performance.

Key Projects: The "Key Projects" category was introduced in Cycle 12. "Key Projects" are intended to greatly advance the Swift science program, enhance its breadth of impact, and represent an enduring legacy of Swift results. Proposals in this category must explicitly explain and strongly justify why the proposal represents a Swift "Key Project", and cannot be carried out as a regular GI program. Proposals in this category may request support for new Swift projects, theoretical investigations, observations of non-GRB non-ToO targets, and observations of ToO targets. The proposed research plans can be carried out in one or two years. Proposers requesting two-year projects that are selected at Phase 1 should not assume that they have been awarded two years of support; this determination will be made at Phase-2 of the review. "Key Projects" proposals may also require funding in the range of $100,000 per year. Such budget requests will be considered, provided they are strongly justified. A six-page limit for the scientific justification applies to proposals submitted in this proposal category. Proposals requesting fill-in targets or support for correlative observations cannot be submitted into this category.

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). 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: "Key Projects" and 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 FY21 (October 2020).

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 Announcement of Opportunity. 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 Announcement of Opportunity. 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.

Joint Swift/NRAO Program: 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. Radio data acquired through the Swift GI Program will be property of the proposers for the standard NRAO 12-month proprietary period.  The Swift Program permits NRAO to award up to 300ks of Swift observing time per year. For further details, please read the Swift/NRAO Memorandum of Understanding.

Joint Swift/NuSTAR Program: Starting from Cycle 14 the Swift Guest Investigator program can award up to 300 ks of NuSTAR observing time through a joint program with the NuSTAR mission. Observing time under this program will be awarded only to proposals that require use of both observatories to meet the primary science goals. Proposers are strongly encouraged to carefully read the Swift/NuSTAR Memorandum of Understanding.

Swift Cycle 16 Announcement

Document Description
ROSES 2019 NRA NSPIRES web page with links to ROSES 2019 announcement and all amendments, plus links to NRA Proposers Guidebook, NASA Science Plan and more.
ROSES 2019 Appendix D.5 "Neil Gehrels Swift Guest Investigator Cycle 16" NSPIRES web page with links to the ROSES 2019 Appendix D.5 with all details of the Swift Cycle 16 elements.

Properties of the Swift GI Program

Investigations are to be carried out in the 16th year of Swift's public observations, i.e., April 2020 through March 2021.

What the Swift GI program is:

What the Swift GI program is NOT:

What's Available in Cycle 16:

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 GRB investigations and non-GRB observations: up to $1.4M

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 GRB Projects 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+observations
9. Key Projects Funding+observations

Schedule for Swift Cycle 16:

ROSES 2018 NRA Released: March 14, 2019
Notices of Intent due: Option not available
Phase 1 Proposals Due: September 26, 2019, 7:30 PM EDT
Phase 1 Proposal Peer Review: Early December, 2019
Phase 2 Budget Proposals Due: February 2020
Swift Cycle 16 Begins: April 1, 2020
Swift Cycle 16 Ends: March 31, 2021

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 NNH19ZDA001N. Below we distill the highlights.

Required Items for a Complete Swift Cycle 16 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 $35- 40k range, except in special cases of "Key Projects" and 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 2018 NASA NRA Proposers Guidebook, and in Appendix D.5 Neil Gehrels Swift Guest Investigator - Cycle 16.

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

    • Scientific Justification (4 page limit, including figures, tables, and references; 6 page limit for Key Projects and high-z IR correlative proposals).
    • Budget Narrative: 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 16. Note that a separate target form must be filled out for every proposed target.

Proposals must be received by September 26, 2019, 7:30 PM EDT.

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 16 Peer Reviewer

The Swift Cycle 16 Peer Review will take place in the Washington DC metropolitan area in early December 2019. 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 contact the Swift GI Lead, Dr. Eleonora Troja, by sending an email to the HEASARC Peer Review Mailbox and mention that you are interested in being a reviewer for Swift Cycle 16.