Quick Help for Using ARK/RPS

RPS Logo

This help file is intended to give a quick introduction to those who are not familiar with the ARK Remote Proposal System, or ARK/RPS. It is short, so please read it completely.

  • A detailed manual on how to use ARK is available. There is also an ARK FAQ. RPS-specific FAQs are answered below.

  • Quick, generic, step-by-step instructions as to what you need to do:

    • In order to submit your proposal to ARK/RPS, you must first create an ARK account and/or join the relevant RPS group.
    • If you already have an ARK account, login first and select "Join Group" from the menu next to RPS group for which you desire to submit a proposal.
    • If you do not already have an ARK account, enter your e-mail address in the input field provided and click on the check box next to the group for which you desire to submit a proposal and then click on the Join ARK button. Check your e-mail. Within a few minutes, you should receive an e-mail from ARK. Click on the activation code found therein. Fill out the ARK registration form and submit. Your ARK account should be created and you should now be a member of the ARK group you specified earlier.
    • Next, proceed to your My ARK page and click on the group for which you desire to submit a proposal. On the following page, click on the "Submit a new proposal" link. Fill out the proposal form(s). Click on the Verify button to make sure you have entered the form information correctly. Once the form verifies successfully, you may then click on the Submit button.
    • After doing so, go "back" in your web browser and then click on the PostScript button to generate the PostScript file for your hard-copy submission and/or upload. Alternatively, the PDF button can be used instead if that format is preferred. (This requirement may vary from mission to mission. Check the group-specific instructions.)
    • Go to the group's "Recent Activity" page. The information for the proposal that you just submitted should be listed here. Click on the Files button next to it, if it is present. Proceed to upload the file(s) specified. If you have submitted your form electronically and uploaded the required files (if applicable), then you have successfully completed your RPS electronic submission.
  • The RPS user, regardless of experience, should develop the habit of saving his/her work often. We recommend that you use the Save button on the ARK/RPS form page periodically.

    Note that the Save and Submit buttons do very different things. The Save button downloads a text file containing the fields and the values you entered. If for some reason your browser crashes before you Submit, you can Reload your saved form, for example. The Submit button submits your proposal to the mission, effectively fulfilling the electronic submission aspect of RPS (not including any file uploads).

    The Save and Reload buttons can also be useful if you have a large number of targets/observations. Some users find that filling out the text file is easier or faster than filling out the web form, especially with a large number of targets. The plain text representation of the ARK form utilized by the ARK Save and Reload buttons also lends itself to automation. A simple script might fill in any number of fields for an arbitrarily large number of targets with ease. When you're done editing the text file, just use the Reload button to upload your changes to ARK.

  • Prior to the deadline, you can still Modify or Discard any proposal you have submitted, using the group's Recent Activity page.

  • Visit the RPS browser support page to see which browsers are supported.

  • Mission-specific questions should be addressed to the relevant Guest Observer Facility (GOF) or Science Support Center (SSC) for that mission.

  • Short description of each RPS form button that you may encounter:

    • Add - Add or clone a specified subform.
    • Add Targets - Upload a list of targets. Only found on ARK/RPS forms that have target subforms.
    • Delete - Remove a subform. You must first set the delete flag to "Y" at the top of the subform you wish to delete.
    • Feedback - This is for sending questions, comments, complaints, etc. to the RPS Help Desk
    • LaTeX - Generate the LaTeX version of your form.
    • PostScript - Generate the PostScript version of your form.
    • PDF - Generate the PDF version of your form.
    • Reload - Reload an ARK/RPS form that was saved using the Save button. (Note: Do not use this button to reload HTML files. Use your browser's file opening mechanism for that.)
    • Save - Save the values you entered in the form boxes to a text file which can be Reloaded later.
    • Submit - Submit the electronic version to the proposal database. The Submit button will not appear until after the form has been successfully verified.
    • Verify - Checks the form for any errors or inconsistencies.

ARK/RPS Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: How do I reload a saved form using the ARK/RPS web interface?

    A form saved using the ARK Save button may be reloaded by using the Reload button on the RPS group's form page. You may then resume filling out the form, submit it, etc.
  • Q: Why does the ARK Save button save the form to a plain text file? In the old RPS web interface, the Save button saved the form to an HTML file. Why was this changed? I really want to save to HTML. How do I do that?

    We think the plain text file has several advantages over the HTML file that the old RPS web interface utilized. The text file is smaller than the HTML file, since it contains only the form information and the values that you entered, so it will not take up as much space on your hard drive. The text file can also be used in other ways. You can edit it more easily outside of your web browser, for example. Many RPS users have specifically stated a preference for being able to do just that. The plain text format is also compatible with the ARK E-mail Server, allowing interoperability between the web and e-mail interfaces. The plain text file format is more robust with regard to changes to the form from one proposal cycle to the next.

    Every web browser supported by ARK has a mechanism for saving the web page you are looking at to a HTML file. Just use the "Save As..." or "Save Page As..." item from your web browser's File menu. We strongly advise you to Verify the form before saving it in this fashion. As you can see, no functionality has been lost here. If you truly need or desire to save the form to HTML, you still can. In order to open a saved HTML file, use the "Open File..." item from your web browser's File menu. Just make sure you are logged in to ARK first. Do not use the Reload button to open saved HTML files. The ARK Reload button only works with files saved using the ARK Save button.
  • Q: How do I know if I have successfully submitted my proposal or not? Can I get some kind of confirmation of my submission?

    If you see your proposal listed on the Recent Activity page for the mission/group to which you are proposing, then we have your proposal. What you see is what we get. If your submission requires any file uploads, there will be a "num_uploads" column. If you've uploaded the correct number of files, the background color of that table cell will be green, indicating you have fulfilled the file uploads requirement. If you desire another means of confirmation, you might want to activate the "Please send an e-mail receipt to me for every data record I submit" checkbox at the bottom of your ARK profile page and then submit to save this change. Now, whenever you submit or modify a proposal or upload a file, you will receive an e-mail detailing the submission. This e-mail confirmation is unnecessary, but it can be a convenient record of your submission. Feel free to activate this feature if it makes you more comfortable with the submission process.
  • Q: I've already submitted my proposal, but I just noticed that I entered an incorrect value into the RPS form. What should I do?

    Go to the Recent Activity page for the RPS group and click on the Modify button next to the proposal you wish to change. After you make the change to the proposal on the form page, Verify and re-Submit your proposal.
  • Q: I've already submitted my proposal and uploaded my PostScript or PDF file(s), as required, but I noticed an error in my scientific justification PostScript file. What should I do?

    You should re-upload the corrected file(s). Go to the Recent Activity page for the ARK/RPS group and click on the Files button next to the submitted proposal. Next, click on the Replace button next to the uploaded file you wish to re-upload.
  • Q: How do I use LaTeX mark-ups in the abstract?

    We would prefer that you do not use LaTeX mark-ups in your abstract. The abstracts for accepted proposals are subsequently distributed in plain text format. They are also ingested into the HEASARC Browse database, so that they can be easily searched. LaTeX code is inappropriate for such usage.
  • Q: Can I enter characters with accent marks or other diacritical marks into an ARK/RPS form?

    No, unfortunately, you cannot. The ARK/RPS system only recognizes the standard 7-bit ASCII character set. If you do enter ISO 8859-1 (Latin-1) or Unicode characters (UTF-8 or UTF-16), for example, and submit the form, the characters will be stripped or possibly transformed into some form unrecognizable from what you intended.
  • Q: How do I concatenate two or more PDFs into a single PDF in order to satisfy the file upload requirement for proposal submission?

    Some missions may require that a single PDF be uploaded as a requirement for a successful proposal submission. If you have multiple documents that need to be combined in order to create a single PDF, here are some suggestions: First, if the documents are not already in PDF format, it's best to combine them in some word processor first before generating your PDF. If that's not possible, then you will need to use some software to concatenate PDFs. There are many free software packages available for doing this. We recommend doing a web search for the latest information, but here are some possibilities: We make no endorsement of the above software; these are simply some tools that we found in our web searches.
  • Q: How do I subscribe to the ARK/RPS calendar in my favorite calendaring program in order to stay informed of upcoming proposal submission deadlines?

    Instructions for Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook, and Evolution users:
    • Simply click on the following link:

    Instructions for Google Calendar:
    • Refer to Google's instructions. Copy and paste the following URL for the calendar:

    Instructions for Mozilla Sunbird users:
    1. Select "Subscribe to Remote Calendar..." from the File menu.
    2. Select the "On the Network" radio button and then click on the "Next" button.
    3. Copy the following URL and paste it into the "Location" box and then click the "Next" button:
    4. Enter "ARK/RPS" into the "Name" field and modify the color (if desired). Then, click the "Next" and "Finish" buttons.

Please refer to the ARK FAQ for answers to general questions about ARK.