Swift is primarily a GRB mission intended to detect afterglows and conduct follow-up observations. However, Swift's rapid response capabilities make it an ideal observatory for a variety of astrophysical observations. Members of the astrophysics community may request Target of Opportunity observations with Swift. Requests for ToOs must be made using the Target of Opportunity Request Form.
Requests for ToO observations may involve any of Swift's instruments. The BAT and XRT select observing modes autonomously. The UVOT uses pre-defined observing sequences. Specific filters and modes may be requested subject to an instrumental safety check. Alternately, the selection of filters and modes may be left to the discretion of the Science Operations Team. Special filter requests should be made in the text box entitled ``Scientific Justification''. Unless otherwise specified and justified UVOT observations will usually be taken using the Filter of the Day.
After a ToO request has been submitted an automated response will be sent to the proposer within a few minutes. The ToO will be evaluated and the proposer will be notified of the decision within one business day. For time-critical observations notification may happen faster.
ToO requests are evaluated for visibility by Swift's instruments, utilization of Swift's unique capabilities, and potential impact on autonomous and pre-scheduled observations. The current observing policy is to concentrate resources on GRB science, so not all ToO requests will be approved.
ToO requests are approved by the mission's Principal Investigator. The following criteria will be applied to ToO requests.
These criteria are a guide and may be relaxed or tightened in exceptional circumstances.
Requests may be made for follow-up observations of GRBs that have been detected by other satellites. Up-to-date information about the Swift ToO program can be found the Target of Opportunity Web Page.