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RXTE Cycle 15 Information RXTE

NASA has approved funding to extend RXTE operations to at least February 28, 2011, and it is possible that this may be extended to September 30, 2011 if additional funding becomes available. Consequently, the RXTE team is implementing a new proposal cycle (Cycle 15) very similar to that enacted for Cycles 13 and 14. Please read the information below carefully in order to participate.

Cycle 15 Proposals Due: September 16, 2010 at 17:00 EDT


Special Rules for Cycle 15

  • TOO and non-TOO observations may not be combined in a single proposal. TOO observations include any observation with a trigger or any observation of a "generic" target (e.g., "new black hole"). Non-TOO observations are those that can be scheduled in advance, such as known sources or predictable phases of known sources. If you have a project that requires both TOO and non-TOO observations (e.g., monitoring of a source that triggers a subsequent TOO observation), you should submit the non-TOO observations as one proposal and the TOO observations as a separate proposal, using the same scientific justification for both proposals. Give the two proposals related, but not identical, titles (e.g., "Observations of My Persistent Source" and "TOO observations of My Persistent Source").

  • All Cycle 15 Data will be Immediately Public - there are No Proprietary Observations in Cycle 15.
    The Cycle 15 program will consist solely of public observations. All Cycle 15 observations will begin with the numbers "96..." and will immediately be made public. This includes both "Core Program" and "Open-Time Program" observations (see next item). Note that non-TOO observations left over from Cycle 12 and earlier that are observed during Cycle 15 will retain their proprietary status. For example, if proposal 93000 was a non-TOO proposal that was accepted for Cycle 12 but has not yet been performed, then when it is performed its observations will still be named 93000-XX-XX-XX, and the data will receive the normal one year proprietary period.

  • Cycle 15 will have two components: a "Core Program" and an "Open-Time Program."
    As described in the "Dear Colleague" letter from NASA HQ, Cycle 15 observations will be drawn from two sources. The first is a Core Program made up of observations that are widely recognized to be of the highest priority for the mission, having passed a peer review in many successive observing cycles. These observations will be automatically included in the Cycle 15 observing schedule, as a continuation of the corresponding Cycle 14 observations. The second component of Cycle 15 is an "Open-Time Program," where proposals for new observations are solicited from the community and peer reviewed. Those accepted will be scheduled as part of Cycle 15, beginning January 1, 2011. As stated above, both Core Program and Open-Time Program data will be immediately public.

  • Cycle 15 proposals will have only ONE PAGE of explanatory text.
    The scientific justification, feasibility, and any explanatory figures must be no more than one page, total, formatted for standard US 8.5" x 11" paper in 10 pt. or larger font. Users must fill out a Cover Page (PI info and abstract), General Form, and Target Form(s) in ARK/RPS, and upload the one page justification as a PDF file. For more information, see our Guide for Proposal Submission, below.

  • Cycle 15 Open-Time targets are requested through September 30, 2011.
    The funding for the RXTE mission in calendar year 2011 is currently still under discussion. The Open-Time program solicits proposals for the time frame from January through September 2011. However, we will likely select more observing time than can be performed through September 30, 2011, so that we can schedule efficiently and will have targets available if RXTE operations are approved to go beyond that time. Thus, some proposals accepted for Cycle 15 may not be observed.

  • No Guest Observer funding available for Cycle 15.
    As in other recent RXTE Cycles, there will be no GO funds available for Cycle 15.

  • Check for contaminating nearby X-ray sources.
    Before submitting your proposal, please make sure to check your proposed observation positions to make sure there are no nearby contaminating X-ray sources. You can use our Source Contamination Searcher. Unlike previous Cycles, this year the XTE team may not have the time or resources to find and correct pointings that are contaminated, so we encourage proposers to be vigilant and make sure the positions they are proposing are the exact ones they want observed.

  • HEXTE only performs "staring" and not "rocking" mode observations.
    HEXTE no longer performs on-off "rocking" modulation. HEXTE cluster A now permanently stares at an on-source position, and cluster B stares off-source. Observers should be able to use the 'hextebackest' FTOOL to estimate the background of cluster A, based on the data from cluster B. This news item contains more information about the subject.

Cycle 15 Announcement ("Dear Colleague" Letter) & Core Program

  • Cycle 15 "Dear Colleague" letter
    Cycle 15 was announced as a "Dear Colleague" letter from NASA HQ on July 16, 2010. The letter details the conditions and context for RXTE Cycle 15, and is the primary reference for Cycle 15 proposers.
  • Cycle 15 Core Program
    Part of the scheduled observations for Cycle 15 will be a "Core Program" based on monitoring and target of opportunity proposals in place in Cycle 12, most of which have passed several peer reviews as providing important science for RXTE. Proposals which duplicate these observations should NOT be proposed for Cycle 15. See the "Dear Colleague" letter above for details.

Schedule for Cycle 15

"Dear Colleague" letter released July 16, 2010
Due Date for Proposal Submission September 16, 2010, 17:00 EDT
Proposal Peer Review Sometime in November 1-10, 2010
Start of Cycle 15 observations
(Core & Open-Time Programs)
January 1, 2011
Nominal end of Cycle 15 September 30, 20111

    1 Depends on funding for operations.

Guide for Proposal Submission

As with previous RXTE Cycles, proposal submission will be via HEASARC's Remote Proposal Submission system (ARK/RPS). Please follow these guidelines, in order to submit your proposal:

  1. Register with ARK/RPS and/or join the "RXTE RPS (XTE)" Group, if you have not already done so.

  2. Enter your proposal data using the ARK/RPS for RXTE instructions. Please keep in mind the following:

  3. Generate one target form per requested observation, using ARK/RPS. You are required to submit one target form per possible observation. For example, if you are requesting "the first three of the twenty most interesting X-ray transients", you should submit twenty (not three) target forms, one for each possible trigger. Note that TOO and non-TOO targets cannot be combined in a single proposal. Each proposal must contain only TOO or only non-TOO targets.

  4. PIs at non-US locations should prepare the PostScript files for their Scientific Justifications using US paper sizes, or risk truncation of their text if/when peer reviewers print it. In LaTeX, paper sizes can be adjusted using
    or similar.

  5. Your proposal is complete when you have submitted each of the following:
      Cover Page
      General Form
      Target Form(s)
      Scientific Justification (one page including graphics, PDF format)

Proposal Tools and Other Resources

  1. Response matrices and PHA files for simulations are available via anonymous FTP at legacy.gsfc.nasa.gov in the directory xte/nra/responses.

  2. The proposal aids PIMMS, viewing, recommd, hextemporize and hexterock are available on the web or via anonymous FTP at legacy.gsfc.nasa.gov in the directory xte/nra/software.

  3. See RXTE Instrument Configurations: the easy route for help in choosing RXTE instrument configurations appropriate to your observation.

  4. The RXTE Technical Appendix gives in-depth details of the RXTE pointed instruments and their configurations.

Getting Help/FAQ

If you have questions about the rules for Cycle 15, please see our Cycle 15 FAQ, first.

For help with ARK/RPS, see ARK/RPS for RXTE. If that doesn't answer your questions, you may write to the RPS Help Desk.

For all other questions, please send mail to the RXTE Guest Observer Facility Help Desk.

If you have a question about RXTE, please send email to one of our help desks.

This page is maintained by the RXTE GOF and was last modified on Thursday, 15-Jul-2010 16:20:51 EDT.