Guide to NuSTAR Cycle 2 Proposers


    Dec. 7, 2015 - The RPS forms were updated to be more consistent with the stray light check output options, i.e., "No issues" or "Potential stray light issue".

Table of Contents

1. Overview

This Announcement of Opportunity (AO) solicits Guest Observer proposals for NuSTAR. Approximately 6.5 Ms of time will be available in the observing period May 1, 2016 - May 31, 2017. $1.5M in funding will be made available to support the analysis of targets accepted at priority A, B or C . Priority C targets will be observed on a "best-effort" basis. Target proposals will be considered from both US and foreign PIs. Only PIs affiliated with, and located at, a US institution will be eligible for funding for accepted NuSTAR proposals through NASA. In addition, up to 1.5 Ms of XMM observing time will be made available for coordinated observations with NuSTAR.

2. Deadline

Proposals are due no later than 4:30 pm EST on Friday, December 11, 2015.

3. What's New in AO2

Joint Observing Projects
A total of 1.5 Msec of XMM-Newton observing time is available through NuSTAR Cycle 2 for joint NuSTAR/XMM joint programs.
Joint NuSTAR/Suzaku programs are no longer available in NuSTAR Cycle 2.

Target of Oppotunity (ToO) Observations
A total of at most 500 ks of observing time will be made available to ToO proposals. Accepted Cycle 2 ToO observations may be triggered until the end of the cycle. It is the responsibility of the PI of an accepted ToO proposal to alert the NuSTAR SOC when the trigger conditions for their accepted ToO have been satisfied. This is done via submission of a NuSTAR ToO Request Form at Prior to submission of this form, the PI should verify,the visibility of the target.

ToO proposals will not be accepted for either a core collapse supernova in the Local Group or a Type 1a closer than the Virgo Cluster.   These constitute required mission Level 1 observations and should either event occur the observations will be planned and executed by the NuSTAR project.

Bright Source Observations
The time available for observations of bright sources has been increased from 300 ksec to 1 Msec in Cycle 2

Limited funding is now available for support of Cycle 2 Category C U.S. Principal Investigator proposals

4. Proposal Elements and Submission Method

Additional details concerning Cycle 2 are given in the NuSTAR AO. There will be a two-phase proposal process. Phase one is for observing proposals. Phase two is for budget proposals for successful phase one proposers who were awarded priority A or B targets. Only observing proposals will be accepted at this time.

Proposal submission is done via the HEASARC ARK/RPS on-line system. Hard-copy submission is not required. The following elements are required:

  • Proposal form (cover page & general form, and one or more pages of the Target form) generated by, and submitted through, ARK/RPS.
  • Scientific justification in PDF format, not exceeding 4 pages for a regular proposal, to be uploaded through ARK/RPS.

The following is optional:

  • A 1-page vita of the PI, to be appended at the end of the scientific justification file.

The following should not be submitted:

  • The PI's institution's own cover page.
  • Formatted electronic copies of the ARK/RPS form.
  • Hard copies of any of the above, including electronically required elements.

5. Some Key Details of the Proposal Form

New NuSTAR PIs must first create an ARK account and/or join the NuSTAR RPS group. Having done so, the NuSTAR RPS form can be accessed via ARK/RPS.

We provide below some key details for NuSTAR Cycle 2. For further details, consult the ARK/RPS help file.

Cover Page
  • Institutional endorsement is not required by NASA in NuSTAR phase 1 proposals. Use the endorsement-related entries only if they are required or desired by the PI's institution.
  • In addition to investigations utilizing NuSTAR observations only, proposals involving coordinated observations with the XMM-Newton observatory can also be proposed during Cycle 2. Proposals for joint NuSTAR-XMM observations should be indicated by clicking the Joint proposal section of the ARK/RPS form, and inputting the requested XMM exposure time in each target form. Proposers may submit the same proposal to XMM AO-15 and NuSTAR Cycle 2. However, the XMM-Newton AO-15 approved program will be taken into account during the NuSTAR Phase 1 review and duplicate observations of the same targets by NuSTAR will typically not be awarded.
  • Joint proposals for NuSTAR observations with Chandra cannot be submitted in response to this AO. However, NuSTAR does have separate agreements with Chandra for coordinated observations. Please see the main Proposals and Tools page for more information.
General Form
  • To facilitate checking for conflicts of interest during the peer review process, the co-I's institution must be chosen from the menu (thereby enforcing a uniform set of names). Please check the list of institutions and contact the RPS team as soon as possible if your co-I's institution is not on this list.
  • into the form. Enter 0 if there is no NASA civil servant on the team.
  • Up to 25 co-investigators can be entered into the RPS form. Only the first 10 will appear on the PDF versions of the form. The full list will be available for conflict checking and will be provided to proposal reviewers.
  • Target of Opportunity (ToO) proposals will be accepted in response to this AO. The minimum allowed required response time is 48 hours.
Target Form
  • Time Constraints: A target is considered as "Time Constrained" if any of the following sections of the target form are marked as 'Yes':
    • Position angle dependent
    • Moving Object
    • Monitoring Program
    • Phase Dependent
    • Time Constrained
    See the NuSTAR RPS help page for more information about these fields. In addition, observations coordinated with other ground- or space-based observatories are considered as time constrained.

    Note that time-constrained observations must be designated as Priority A by the proposal review panel to guarantee scheduling. Time-constrained observations designated as category B or C will be executed on a best-efforts basis. All time-constrained observations must be able to be completed within the Cycle 2 observing period (May 1 2016 to May 31 2017).

  • Proposers should include a summary of details that are necessary for scheduling and observation planning (constraints, observing mode) in the Remarks box for each target.
  • Sources with fluxes > 10-11 ergs s-1 cm-2 within 5° of the target may cause increased non-uniform background gradients due to stray light. Users should check observations for potential stray light contributions using the tool that is available at the NuSTAR Researchers' web site. If a field is designated as having a "Potential stray light issue", proposers should submit a request for a feasibility analysis to at least 48 hours prior to the proposal submission deadline.
  • The minimum exposure for NuSTAR targets is 20 ks. If the proposer is also requesting XMM time, the minimum XMM exposure time is 5 ks.

After completing all fields for a proposal in ARK/RPS, use the Verify button to confirm that all required entries exist and conform to the expected format. Forms that pass verification can then be submitted. ARK/RPS allows PIs to continue to modify submitted proposals until the deadline, so there is no penalty for submitting the proposal form early.

The LaTeX, PostScript, and PDF buttons of ARK/RPS can be used to generate formatted versions of the proposal forms. Although it is often useful for the PIs to keep formatted copies of the forms for the record, it is not a required part of the proposal submission process.

6. Scientific Justification

  • The scientific justification for a regular program must not exceed 4 Letter size pages.
  • Optionally, an additional page containing the PI's vita can be included.
  • Proposals must use a font having no more than 15 characters per inch (horizontally), typical of font Times New Roman 12. The scientific justification can be generated using the software of the PI's choice, as long as it is converted to PDF format before submission.
  • We suggest that proposers use the LaTeX template or the Word template for the scientific justification. When using these templates, the user should double-check that the top, botton, right and left margins are at least 1 inch.
  • Proposals should include a description of the scientific objectives; justify the choice of target(s); show that existing data (previous X-ray observations or at other wavelengths) are insufficient to achieve the objectives; justify the choice of NuSTAR over other existing observatories (preferably linked to some unique characteristic of NuSTAR); and demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed observation and analysis.
  • Proposals for targets already observed by NuSTAR are allowed, but must include a justification for an additional observation, such as a much longer exposure, different pointing position within an extended object, or different observing window for a variable object. Observed and/or approved NuSTAR targets can be found using the HEASARC/Browse numaster table or by using NuSTAR As-Flown Timeline.
  • The length of the observation should be justified based on the specific scientific objectives, preferably using simulations or scaled from prior NuSTAR observations of a similar source. However, the minimum NuSTAR observing time for a target is set at 20 ksec.

7. Phase 2 (Budget) Proposals

After peer evaluation, proposals with US PIs with category A or B targets that are not time constrained (TC) or a target of opportunity (ToO) will receive NASA funding once their cost proposal has been submitted and reviewed. US co-Is on proposals with non-US PIs are not eligible for funding. Phase 2 (budget) proposals are submitted through NASA's NSPIRES system.

Please note that after notification letters were sent to PIs, the Phase 2 budget proposal deadline was extended to June 10, 2016.

US PIs of proposals with TC, ToO, or Category C observations will not receive funding until a target from their program is observed. PIs of such proposals will be invited to submit a Phase 2 proposal if one or more of the targets in their Phase 1 proposal is scheduled for observation during Cycle 2. Therefore the NSPIRES NuSTAR Cycle 2 budget solicitation will remain open throughout Cycle 2 (May 1, 2016-May 30, 2017). However, the PIs of these programs can optionally submit a budget proposal by the June 10, 2016 deadline in order to expedite the grant process when or if a target from their program is observed. Note that limited funding for the support of costs such as travel expenses associated with presentation of the results at a scientific conference, page charges, etc., will be held in reserve for Category C proposals executed during Cycle 2.

As with all NASA ROSES proposals, final institutional submission is required. Please leave enough time for your institutional process. If your institution requires a NASA grant solicitation number, it is NNH15ZDA001N-NUSTAR2.

To submit a Stage 2 proposal, follow these basic steps:

  1. Log on to NSPIRES. If you do not have an NSPIRES account, you will need to create one and affiliate with your institution.
  2. On your NSPIRES home page, click on "Proposals/NOIs."
  3. Click the "▸Create Proposal" button.
  4. Select "Solicitation." Even though your proposal has already been selected via phase 1, do not select "Prior-phase Proposal."
  5. Select "NuSTAR Guest Observer - Cycle 2" (NNH15ZDA001N-NUSTAR2)
  6. Enter proposal information and your institutional affiliation.
  7. When proposal elements are complete, use the "Release to Org" button to release the proposal to your institutional proposal office.
  8. Your institutional proposal office must then perform the final proposal submission.

If you have any questions concerning NuSTAR or the NuSTAR GO program, visit the Feedback form.