BASIC INSTRUCTIONS

Utilizing ARK, the Astrophysics Research Knowledgebase, a service of NASA's High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center, RPS provides a facility for filling out the Request for Observation form for NICER Targets of Opportunity (TOOs). Electronic submission of the form is required.

Please read the description of NICER TOOs before submitting a TOO request.

In order to access the NICER TOO request web form, you must first create an ARK account and/or join the NICERTOO group.

If you already have an ARK account, login first and select "Join Group" from the menu next to "NICER Target of Opportunity RPS (NICERTOO)" and then click on the Submit Changes button.

If you do not already have an ARK account, enter your e-mail address in the input field provided and click on the checkbox next to "NICER Target of Opportunity Request for Observation (NICERTOO)" and then click on the Join ARK button. Check your e-mail and click on the activation code found therein. Fill out the ARK registration form and submit.

Next, proceed to the NICER Target of Opportunity/DDT Request for Observation web form and fill out the form as directed below. Click the Verify button to make sure you have entered the form information correctly. Once the form verifies successfully, a Submit button will appear, allowing you to you to submit the request to the NICER team.

After clicking on the Submit button, go to your Recent Activity page. Summary information for the request that you just submitted should be listed here. If it is, then you have successfully completed the submission of your NICER TOO request.

Note: After submission, ARK has the capability to Modify or Discard submissions using the appropriate buttons on the Recent Activity page. However, you should be aware that discarding your NICER TOO request in ARK really has no effect. In order for the TOO requests to be responded to in a timely fashion, the TOO request is sent to the NICER Science Support Center's TOO system immediately upon submission. Similarly, modifying your TOO request in ARK does not modify the TOO request in the NICER TOO system. Indeed, modifying an already submitted request in ARK will actually result in sending an additional request to the NICER TOO system, which is not desirable. Any modifications to a TOO request should be communicated directly to the NICER TOO team via e-mail to nicertoo@bigbang.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Additional information on how to use RPS and the answers to some frequently asked questions can be found on the RPS Quick Help page.

Short descriptions of the forms and fields are below. The fields are listed in the same order as found on the web page. The labels for the fields in the web form will link to the appropriate field description below.

FORM/FIELD-SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS

Request Form

The form contains fields for specifying the type of request, the justification for the TOO, its urgency, and your personal details (name, address, telephone number, etc.).

Urgency

Specify how quickly the NICER team are to be alerted to the TOO request. Please do not select a higher level of urgency than is required. The "Next Business Day" and "Next Day" options will alert the FSSC staff immediately during normal working hours. Required.

Justification for Target of Opportunity

800 characters maximum. Your justification for observing the target of opportunity at this time. Required.

Additional Proprietary Information

Any additional information that you do not want shared with the public. 500 characters maximum.

Principal Investigator Title

Your title (Dr., Ms., Mr., Prof.). The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

First Name

Your first name. Up to 30 characters are allowed. Required. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Middle Name or Initial

If you like, you may add your middle name or initial(s). Optional. Up to 30 characters are allowed. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Last Name

Your last name (surname). Up to 30 characters are allowed. Required. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Department

The name of your department at your institution. Up to 60 characters are allowed. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Institution

Your institutional affiliation. Required. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Address 1

The first line of your institution's address, e.g., the street name, any number within it, etc. Up to 60 characters. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Address 2

The second line of your institution's address, if needed. Up to 60 characters. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

City/Town

Your city or town. Up to 32 characters. Required. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

State/Province

The name of the state/province/prefecture in which your institution is located. Up to 30 characters. Required. For states in the U.S., please use USPS-standard, two-letter abbreviations. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Zip/Postal Code

The postal code, ZIP code, or equivalent of your institution. Up to 10 characters. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Country

The name of the country in which your institution is located. Required. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission. If your country is not listed, please contact the RPS Help Desk.

Telephone Number

Your telephone number, plus any extension. Please include the international prefix if appropriate. Up to 24 characters allowed. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Fax Number

Your fax number, if available. 24 characters allowed. The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

E-mail Address

Your e-mail address. Up to 60 characters. Required. If the e-mail receipt option is checked in your ARK user profile, an e-mail receipt will be sent to this address within 24 hours of the electronic submission of your request (usually much sooner). The value for this field comes from your ARK user profile. If it is incorrect, update your ARK user profile prior to submission.

Target Form

This form contains the details regarding how the Target of Opportunity should be observed.

Target Name

The commonly accepted name for the object. Up to 20 characters. Please use standard names for known targets (e.g., NGC 2237 or Eta Car). Required.

Target Category

Specify one of the following categories that best describes this target. Required.
     X-Ray Pulsars and Neutron Stars
     White Dwarfs and CVs
     Black Holes
     Non-Compact Stellar Objects
     Supernovae
     Extended Galactic X-Ray Sources
     Normal Galaxies
     Active Galaxies and Quasars
     Galaxy Clusters and Extragalactic Extended Objects
     Other

R.A.

The right ascension of the source in J2000 decimal degrees. The value must be given in the format DDD.DDDDD.

Dec.

The declination of the source in J2000 decimal degrees. The value must be given in the format #DD.DDDDD, where # is an optional sign, either + or -. If no sign is given it will be assumed to be positive. Required.

Total Observation Time

Specify the amount of time that the target should be observed in kiloseconds. This is the total requested exposure time (i.e., total amount of good on-source data, after standard screening). The value must be between 1 and 1,000 kiloseconds. Required.

Justification for Exposure

. Provide the reason for the requested total observing time, noting science goals, required signal-to-noise, etc. Requests to re-observe previously observed targets should be justified here.

Monitoring Program?

Answering Yes indicates that the total observation time needs to be spread over more than one observation (considered a "visit") at pre-determined intervals, usually to examine target variability over some user-defined time interval. Use the Phase Dependent Observations or Specific Time Range categories in this form if the observation should be done in specific phase intervals or on a range of specific dates/times, respectively.

Monitoring Criteria

Describe the specifics of the monitoring program, such as the number of times the target should be observed, the minimum and maximum range for the start of the monitoring in MJD, and the time interval between consecutive observations. Up to 400 characters. Required for monitoring programs.

Phase Dependent Observations?

Answering Yes indicates that the observation needs to occur at one or more specified phase intervals of the orbital period, spin period, or other periodic phenomena. The "Epoch" is the reference date given in MJD and the "Period" is the period in days. The "Minimum Phase" and "Maximum Phase" are the minimum and maximum phases desired for observation of this target, i.e. the observation will be done at phase phi between φmin ≤ φ ≤ φmax, where φmin is the minimum phase and φmax the maximum phase.

Phase dependent observations are considered to be time-constrained.

Phase Dependent Epoch

For phase dependent observations, this is the reference date in Modified Julian Date (MJD) number format. The observations will be made at an integral number of "Period" values from this date. Required for phase-dependent observations.

Phase Dependent Period

The period of the source in days. Required for phase-dependent observations.

Minimum Phase

Minimum phase to be observed. Values must be between 0 and 1. Required for phase-dependent observations.

Maximum Phase

Maximum phase to be observed. Values must be between 0 and 1. Required for phase-dependent observations.

Phase Dependent Remarks

Provide any details related to the phase-dependent observations. Up to 400 characters. Required for phase-dependent observations.

Specific Time Range?

Answering Yes indicates that the observation should be made within a specific time range. This may be used, for example, if the observation needs to be coordinated with observation of this target by NuSTAR and/or another observatory.

Please note that the amount of available time for which a target is visible to NICER in a specific time interval may be limited by obstruction with the ISS solar panels or other structures; because of uncertainties in the flight orientation of the ISS with time, it is not always possible to predict the target visibility well in advance. Please contact the NICER Help Desk if you have concerns about the visibility of your target.

Specifying a time range means that the observations are considered to be time-constrained.

Specific Time Range Start

The start date/time of the observation, in MJD. The observation should start no earlier than this time.

Specific Time Range End

The end date/time of the observation, in MJD. The observation should end no later than this time.

Specific Time Range Remarks

Provide any comments related to the need for observation within the specified time range. Up to 400 characters. Required for observations for which a specific time range is indicated.

Coordinated Observation?

Indicate whether or not the observation is linked with observations by NuSTAR and/or by another observatory/mission. The default is No.
     No
     Yes
     Preferred But Not Essential

Coordinating Observatory

Indicate the other observatory/mission with which the observation(s) should be coordinated. Required for coordinated observation(s).

Coordinated Observation Description

Give specifics regarding the coordination of the observation(s). Up to 400 characters. Required for coordinated observation(s).

Uninterrupted Observation?

Indicate whether or not an uninterrupted observation of the target is required. The default is no. Note that NICER has complicated visibility constraints due to occultation with external structures on the ISS, and in general the longest available uninterrupted observing interval is 2 ksec or less for most targets.

Uninterrupted Observation Justification

Give reasoning and/or specifics for the uninterrupted observation(s). Up to 200 characters. Required for uninterrupted observation(s).

Expected Count Rate Above Background

Give the expected total band (0.3-10 keV) count rate of the source in counts/second for all 52 active Focal Plane Modules (FPMs) with no deadtime. Proposers may use WebPIMMS to estimate NICER count rates, or WebSpec or XSPEC for more detailed simulations. Proposers should note that deadtime is important for very bright sources (a flux of 3 Crab, corresponding to about 60,000 NICER counts/s for 52 FPMs). Deadtime can be reduced by reading out a subset of the focal plane modules. Proposers who wish to observe very bright sources should consult with the NICER team on the observing strategy. Required.