RXTE proposals must contain four forms: the Cover Page, the
General Form, the Target Summary, and a Target Form for each target proposed.
Optional forms include one or more Constraints Forms.
is meant to provide guidance in filling out those entries on the various forms
that are not self-explanatory. Additional information may be found in the RXTE
Technical Description, available from the RXTE GOF by request or through
the RXTE GOF homepage at the addresses given in the Solicitation
Electronic submission of the Cover Page, General Form, Target
Summary, Target Forms, and optional Constraints Forms is also required.
Individuals not having access to the Internet should contact Dr.
Alan Smale at least two weeks prior to the proposal due date at the address
given in the Solicitation Announcement.
The RXTE GOF provides the capability to submit forms electronically
and, at the same time, to generate hard copy output, by the use of the
Remote Proposal Submission (RPS) software. This software provides a
"user friendly" means of entering, checking, electronically mailing,
and printing of the proposal forms, and can be accessed via the WWW or
by automated E-mail interaction. A description of the use of the
software is available via the GOF homepage at http://rxte.gsfc.nasa.gov/, and
from the anonymous FTP account on rxte.gsfc.nasa.gov
Network glitches may (very occasionally) affect the
integrity of RPS files. The proposal author is strongly urged to verify the
contents of the electronic RPS files prior to submitting proposals by printing
out the forms and reading them carefully.
Most items on this form are self-explanatory, but there are a few items which
are commonly filled out incorrectly. Please refer to the following sections
for hints on the proper completion of the forms.
Title is not meant to refer to your job description, Use Dr., Prof.,
Mr., Ms., or whatever is appropriate.
Data is now distributed to PI's electronically, thus any value input
here will be disregarded.
Please enter the one entry that best describes the observation. The choice
will not affect how the proposal is judged. The proposals are assigned to a
review panel on the basis of whether the proposal is a galactic or an
extragalactic proposal. The subject categories are chosen so the number of
proposals received in a given category can be distributed evenly among panel
members who are familiar with the targets in that category. The user should
make a reasonable category choice for the proposal. Other
D.2.4 Proposal Title
Please keep the title succinct; there is a 120-character limit.
D.2.5 Number of Targets
RPS fills this entry automatically. Raster targets count as a single target.
D.2.6 Targets of Opportunity
The box should be checked if the proposal requests Target of Opportunity (TOO)
status. If the proposal is selected, time will be awarded but will remain
unscheduled until the opportunity occurs. Note that it will be the proposer's
responsibility to notify the SOC that the opportunity has occurred if the ASM
is not used as the trigger. Note also that a proposal must not contain a mix
of TOO targets and non-TOO targets.
The abstract must not exceed 800 characters and should be understandable to
someone familiar with the field but not necessarily an expert. The abstracts
of approved proposals will be made available via Argus.
D.3 General Form
The first name on the list should be that Co-Investigator (Co-I) who can serve
as an alternate contact if the PI is unavailable. Communication between the
planning and operations teams and the PI or her/his designated contact may be
necessary at any time prior to an observation. It is useful to list other
Co-I's in decreasing order of participation in the proposed project. For
instance, list first a graduate student or postdoctoral associate who is
expected to perform the analysis (and who may have written the proposal) but
who, for administrative reasons, was not allowed to be the PI.
D.3.2 Co-I Contact
If designation of a contact in addition to the PI is desired, enter "Y" and
provide a network address and phone number. Such a contact's name should be
that of the first listed Co-I. Naming such a contact is optional, but might be
useful if a decision about observing modes must be made rapidly and the PI is
D.4 Target Form / Target Summary
D.4.1 Target Number
Order targets by observing priority from highest to lowest (i.e., target 1 =
highest priority). The review panels will be instructed to honor the stated
priority if they find it necessary to recommend reduction in the number of
targets. Note that alternate targets (defined in Chapter 2 of
the RXTE Technical Description) are no longer supported.
The name will be printed/transmitted in upper case. Please use commonly
accepted names for objects (NGC xxxx; PKS xxxx+yy; Gxxxx.x+y.y) so that overlap
checks are made easier.
Use J2000 coordinates. The RXTE team will not be responsible for pointing
errors due to incorrect or unprecessed coordinates. If proper motion is
important, specify an epoch within the Cycle 8 observing period.
Enter coordinates carefully. Use leading zeroes when necessary. The software
may not read the coordinates properly if leading zeroes are not present (e.g.,
enter 02 03 07 rather than 2 3 7).
D.4.4 Total Observing Time
The unit for this number is kiloseconds. Enter the total time spent on
this target. The absolute minimum time for a pointing is 1 ksec.
Large maneuvers between unrelated targets will incur ~500 sec of
overhead, on average. To reflect the true scheduling cost of these
observations on RXTE operations, the proposal review panel may
factor in the estimated overhead when assessing proposals that
ask for a large number of short observations.
For scans or multiple visits, enter the summed time. Scans of extended targets
at a reduced slew rate are possible; the `scan' flag on the Target Form should
be set. Details of the scan should be entered in the `Remarks' box or on a
D.4.5 Number of Observations
The default entry is "1." It should be more than one only if any constraints
exist. If a constrained observation is requested, then the appropriate entries
in the Constraints Form must be filled out. If a raster observation is
requested, provide details in the "Remarks" section or on a separate page.
D.4.6 Additional Constraints
The default entry is "N." If constraints exist, the Constraints Form must be
D.4.7 Estimated Counting Rates: PCA and HEXTE
Estimated counting rates in counts/sec are requested for both the PCA and
HEXTE. The requested count rates are: (i) for the PCA: the mean
total count rate for 3 PCUs (see C.2.2.1) across the RXTE band, the
maximum and minimum count rates across the RXTE
band, and mean count rates in six spectral bands, and (ii) for the HEXTE: the
mean count rates in four spectral bands and maximum possible overall count
rate. These counting rates will be used to review the appropriateness of the
selected configurations. The counting rates in each band for a given
model can be obtained by using the Portable Interactive Multi-Mission Simulator
(PIMMS) or WEBSPEC. PIMMS is a software tool used for estimating
count rates for a specified model. WEBSPEC is a Web-based spectral
simulation tool. Both PIMMS and WEBSPEC are available via the RXTE
GOF web site, on the "Proposal and Planning Tools" page.
D.4.8 PCA/EDS Mode/Configuration
The EDS has eight Event Analyzers (EA's). Two are used for the ASM, over which
the user has no control. Two more are dedicated to the Standard Modes of the
PCA and may not be altered. The remaining four EA's may be configured by the
The names and descriptions of the configurations are available in the RXTE
Technical Description. In addition, a software tool, RECOMMD, is available to
guide the user in selecting an appropriate configuration. RECOMMD will provide
suggestions for the appropriate configuration; the user must then consider
whether the recommended configurations are appropriate for the proposed
science. Instructions for the use of RECOMMD may be found in the RXTE
Technical Description and through the RXTE GOF web site.
The configuration must be specified as a string constant, as listed by RECOMMD
or as described in the RXTE Technical Description. You do not need to enter a
configuration in each box - many scientific investigations do not require all
the EA's to be utilized. Enter "IDLE" in all PCA boxes for which you do not
wish to specify a configuration.
Observations of the same target using different configurations that cannot be
accommodated simultaneously are considered separate observations. The proper
approach to filling in the target sheet is as follows: (1) for the first
configuration set, enter the exposure time desired at the specified
configuration(s), and (2) treat the second observation as a completely new
target as far as the exposure and configuration are concerned. The target name
and coordinates will be identical with the first target.
D.4.9 PCA Telemetry Rates
The estimated telemetry rate in kbits/sec should be entered in the box.
RECOMMD provides associated telemetry rates for all configurations listed.
The telemetry rate is a precious resource for RXTE observations and one of its
great strengths. The telemetry rate, during good science times, averaged over
the entire observing period, must be approximately 40 kbits/sec, assuming an average
observing efficiency of 60%. This value is exclusive of the PCA/EDS Standard
Modes, HEXTE, and spacecraft telemetry values. Individual proposal telemetry
rates may be above or below this value. Telemetry rates above this average
value must be justified.
D.4.10 HEXTE Configurations
The HEXTE instrument consists of two clusters. For normal operations, the
clusters are used identically. Each cluster may be programmed independently,
however. HEXTE contains its own data system for selecting and formatting the
data. The HEXTE modes are defined in the HEXTE instrument description chapter
and the HEXTE feasibility chapter of the RXTE Technical Description. The low
energy threshold acts as a lower level discriminator, so that photons below
that energy are not detected within the instrument. The default value is 12
keV. The source dwell time is the source exposure time for each of the two
on-source exposures, that, when combined with the off-source exposures,
comprise the HEXTE rocking cycle; the default was changed from 16
seconds to 32 seconds in 1998 January. The switching
angle is the angle to the off-source pointing; the default is
+/-1.5 degrees. These default values are subject to change at the
discretion of the HEXTE team. Proposers who request DEFAULT values will
automatically receive the HEXTE team's default values in effect at the time of
their observation. Finally, a burst list capability exists to record events
before, during, and immediately after a burst detected by the individual
cluster, the other cluster, or the EDS. Ground-commanded triggers are also
possible. IDLE is not a permitted configuration for HEXTE.
D.4.11 HEXTE Telemetry Rates
The estimated HEXTE telemetry rate should be entered in the box at the bottom
of the HEXTE section. The average HEXTE data rate will
be approximately 8 kbits/s, assuming an average observing efficiency of 60%.
For most sources (those whose brightness is <70% of the Crab), this limit is
respected by use of the Event List Mode for which full spectral and a range of
temporal resolutions are preserved for analysis. Brighter sources will require
tradeoffs between spectral and temporal resolutions. The Histogram Bin
(spectral) or Multiscalar Bin (timing) modes are designed to provide such
capabilities and to stay within telemetry limits. Telemetry rates above the
average value must be justified.
The Remarks box should be used to explain any entry that may not be clear to
the scientific and technical review panels, or to the SOC staff. If an
observation is particularly complex, use the Remarks box as an indicator that
an additional page has been attached (e.g., "See additional page"). An
additional page for remarks is not to be interpreted as extra
space for scientific justification, technical feasibility, or advertisements.
The Remarks box and the extra sheet of paper are for the purpose of explaining
a technically demanding observation that cannot be otherwise
covered by the Constraints Form.
D.5 Constraints Form
D.5.1 Target Number
The entry here will be identical to the entry placed on the Target Form. This
form is generated by RPS so the target number must only be specified correctly
at the initial query. PI's wishing to specify both high and low telemetry
components of a particular target should propose these as two separate targets,
with a comment in the Remarks section linking them.
D.5.2 Coordinated Observation
This category of constraint is intended for use for multibandpass observations.
The entries consist of the starting and stopping times (Year, Month, Day, Hour,
Minute) for the coordinated observation. The times should be absolute times
(UT). If coordinated observations are planned but not yet scheduled,
enter a 'U' in response to the "Coordinated observation? Y/N/U" question.
Seasonal constraints may be handled in this category. Observations
requesting "special handling" should set the flag. This flag emphasizes the
importance of absolutely matching the coordinated observing schedule. The
appropriateness of the flag will be reviewed by the peer evaluation committee.
If an observing program is so designated, a change in the coordinated observing
schedule will be accommodated up to 60 days prior to the start of the
observation. If a target has multiple coordinated windows, such as an
observation in March 2003 and another in September 2003, PI's must propose
these as two targets, with a comment in the Remarks section linking them.
D.5.3 Time-of-Day Observation
This category exists generally for ground-based collaboration to specify a UT
time to start and to end the observation. The emphasis is slightly different
from the Coordinated Observation, in that the observation may stretch over
several nights and be done only during the Earth's night-time hours from a
given location (e.g., Kitt Peak).
D.5.4 Monitoring Observation
This category is intended for repeated visits to a particular target(s). The
primary consideration is not when the observation is scheduled but the interval
between visits. Note that the time interval must be specified as a minimum and
a maximum interval, where the units are in kiloseconds, to permit the
scheduling software some flexibility in producing the observing schedule. If
PI's wish to do (for example) both a daily and weekly monitoring campaign,
these should be specified as two targets, with a comment in the Remarks section
linking them. Monitoring campaigns with more complex structures, e.g.
logarithmic separations, are still to be considered as a special case and must
be specified entirely in the Remarks section.
D.5.5 Phase-Dependent Observation
This category is intended for observing at a particular phase of a periodic
phenomenon. The epoch (MJD = Modified Julian Date) and the period (in days)
must be specified. In addition, the phase range which the observation will
cover must be specified as the starting and stopping phases (in other words,
the observation will begin near the "start" phase and continue until
approximately the "stop" phase). No time outside of that interval will be
scheduled. It will be the proposer's responsibility to see that the requested
exposure time is an appropriate match to the length of time to be covered by
the phase constraint. Two separate phase constraints are now permitted.
D.5.6 Uninterrupted Observation
There are two categories of observation included in the Uninterrupted
Observation constraint. Proposers may select either of these categories.
The "Minimum Constant Pointing Direction Time" is the minimum desired time that
RXTE must observe the source, without slewing to another source, but allowing
interruptions for occultation, SAA passage, etc.
The "Minimum Continuous Viewing Zone Time" is the minimum desired time that
RXTE must observe the source, without slewing to another source, and NOT
allowing ANY interruptions for occultation, SAA passage, etc.
Note that SAA passages occur about one per orbit for 6 consecutive orbits per
day, and that the position of the source on the sky may rule out long periods
of continuous viewing. The user should also note that unavoidable short
interruptions may still occur for operational reasons such as data dropouts.
D.5.7 TOO Observation
A TOO observation may be tied to a change in the X-ray flux as detected by the
ASM. The ASM is discussed in Chapter 6 of the RXTE Technical Description. The
ASM count rate that is to trigger the TOO should be entered. If the TOO is to
be triggered by a means other than the ASM, the "TOO Triggered by Optical/Other
Observations" box must be flagged. Full details of TOO Observations are
covered in Chapter 3 of the Technical Description.
No certifications are required in response to this Announcement.
NASA Research Announcement NRA 02-OSS-01, "Research Opportunities in
Space Science - 2002", entitled "Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer Guest
Observer Program - Cycle 8
Description of the RXTE Guest
Information for Proposers Regarding
Proposal Submission, Evaluation, Selection, and Implementation
Filling out RXTE Proposal Forms