skip to content
Suzaku Guest Observer Facility

Suzaku Announcement of Opportunity (AO-8)

2012 October 1
Kazuhisa Mitsuda (Project manager, ISAS/JAXA)
Tadayuki Takahashi (Project sub-manager, ISAS/JAXA)
Hideyo Kunieda (Project scientist, Nagoya University)

1. Overview

The X-ray Astronomy satellite Suzaku was developed under the collaboration of Japan and the United States, and was launched by ISAS/JAXA on 2005 July 10. Suzaku has successfully carried out astronomical observations using the X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS) and the Hard X-ray Detector (HXD). After the initial operation for instrument calibration and performance verification, which confirm the wide-bandpass, high-sensitivity, moderate spectral resolution capabilities of Suzaku, we entered the international AO phase of the mission in 2006 April, performing observations based on proposals received from the astronomical community world-wide.

Although Suzaku had continued observations normally without any fatal hardware problems until the end of 2011, Suzaku entered into an automatic power-saving mode on January 24, 2012, due to the gradual degradation of the power-supply capability of the Solar Array Paddle (SAP) during six and a half years in orbit. Immediatly after that, all the scientific instruments were restarted. Suzaku currently keeps its functionality as it was at the beginning of Cycle 7 period (2012 April), by reducing electric power consumption of unnecessary instruments and components. Nevertheless, the SAP power-supply capability has continue to degrade.

We hereby solicit submission of observing proposals for the one year period starting in 2013 April (AO-8), with the following changes and caveats.

  • While we will take every possible measure to enable normal observations through the end of the AO-8 period (2014 March 31), we may be forced to stop the operation of a subset of the instruments, if the power shortage becomes serious enough. Furthermore, further degradation of power supply may lead to premature termination of AO-8. A simple extrapolation of the power history of the SAP implies that the partial shutdown of the scientific instruments should be considered around early 2014. However, this estimate depends on the radiation environment in orbit, such as the activity level of the Sun.
  • Given this, all new Cycle 8 proposals should stand on their own merits, in the sense of not requiring future (Cycle 9) Suzaku observations.
  • Previously, targets with Sun angles in the range 65 to 110 degrees were accessible for Suzaku observaitons. Considering the power situation, we will restrict the Sun angle range to 70-110 degrees for AO-8 observations. It is conceivable that we will reduce the amount of time available for target-of-opportunity and time critical observations (see below).
  • We do not solicit new Key Project proposals, a category started in AO-4 to obtain legacy data that address important scientific problems. Given the SAP degradation, however, the project team decided to concentrate on completing Key Projects that have been accepted in previous cycles.

During the AO-8 period, observations can also be accepted through the Suzaku-Fermi joint program (initiated in AO-6) and the Suzaku-Chandra program (initiated in AO-4). We refer the interested parties to the Fermi and Chandra home pages, respectively.

This call for proposals is applicable to scientists based in the US.

Scientists in ESA member countries should consult the version at ESA, while scientists in all other countries, including Japan, should consult the version at ISAS/JAXA.

2. The Suzaku Observatory

The Suzaku satellite carries four modules of the X-Ray Telescope (XRT) that focus X-rays up to ~10 keV with a high efficiency. An X-ray CCD camera (XIS) module is mounted in the focal plane of each XRT. The XIS has a high sensitivity and moderate spatial resolution, and is particularly suitable for the studies of extended sources. We apply Spaced-row Charge Injection technique for the XIS since AO-2 to suppress degradation of energy resolution. The HXD has unprecedented sensitivity in the wide energy range up to 600 keV, although it has no imaging capability. The wide bandpass coverage of 0.2 keV through 600 keV with the XIS and the HXD is an important characteristic of the Suzaku mission.

The technical description of the Suzaku instruments and the list of targets that have been observed or accepted can be found from the Suzaku Guest Observer Facility homepage.

3. Mission Phases and Time Allocation

Since 2006 April, all normal observing time has been allocated through an open AO process, and this will continue in AO-8. Normal observing time is 87% of the total time excluding:

  1. Observatory Time (3%) for satellite maintenance and related purposes
  2. Calibration time (5%) for ongoing calibration of the instruments; and
  3. Director's Discretionary Time (DDT; 5%) for observations of gamma-ray bursts or any genuinely unpredictable events, and other important observations granted at the discretion of the mission director.

The remaining 87% of the total time, which amounts to 360d x 38 ksec/d x 0.87 = 11902 ksec per year, is open to the AO-8 program, and is distributed among Japan, US, ESA and other countries as follows.

(1)Japan time5451 ksec (ESA 909 ksec, Japan and others 4542 ksec)
(2)US time3963 ksec
(3)Joint Japan-US time488 ksec or more
(4)Key project timeup to 2000 ksec

Here the Japan time includes joint Japan-ESA time, which amounts to 909 ksec. Accordingly, the remaining 4541 ksec is the time for Japanese scientists in AO-8. All proposals from outside Japan, US and ESA should be submitted to the Japan time. Note, however, that the total approved exposure time of proposals whose principal investigators (PIs) are not Japanese nor from ESA member states is not to exceed the joint Japan-ESA time. The joint Japan-US time will be used if proposals for the same targets are accepted both in Japan and US, and if both PIs accept such merging (the proposal form has a check box for the PI to indicate whether he/she accepts the merging). Observation time from Suzaku-Fermi and Chandra-Suzaku joint programs are included in one of the above nationality-based categories, depending on the PI's affiliation. The Key Project time will be used for continuing projects, accepted in or before AO-7; any remaing time will be added to the Joint Japan-US time.

4. Proposal Policies

(1) Only researchers based in the US and affiliated with a US institution are eligible to submit their proposals to NASA as the PI. In rare cases, a single PI may be considered eligible to submit Suzaku proposals through multiple agencies. Such a PI must, however, choose a single agency for all his/her AO-7 proposals; it is forbidden for a single PI to submit proposals to multiple agencies during a single cycle, even if they are for independent projects. On the other hand, there can be co-Investigators from any countries in proposals submitted to NASA.

(2) The complete list of targets accepted through AO-7 can be found in the Timeline & Mission Information section of the Suzaku GOF site. The observations of priority A and B targets are guaranteed. New proposals for these targets will not be approved without an explicit justification for an additional observation, such as much longer exposure, different pointing position on the same extended object, or a different phase of a variable object. On the other hand, some of the priority C targets and TOO targets are not observed. This can be checked at this page at ISAS.

Any PI can submit proposals for the C or TOO targets that are unobserved. It must be noted, however, that unobserved AO-7 C or TOO targets may be observed by the end of AO-7 period (March 2013). In this case, the observations of the C targets are regarded as being completed if the exposure time exceeds 70% of the proposed time. If the exposure time is less than 70 %, on the other hand, an additional observation will be carried out to fill the remaining time only if a proposal for the same target from the same PI is accepted at a higher priority (A or B) in AO-8. Otherwise, the observation carried out in AO-7 is ignored, and the target is open for competition in AO-8.

(3) The exposure time of the observation should be justified based on the specific scientific objectives, preferably using simulations. However, we set the minimum exposure time of a single pointing observation at 10 ksec, considering the efficiency of satellite operation. If sufficiently strong justification is provided, long observations are awarded up to the practical limit of 1 Ms per proposal. Note that any observations based on a proposal whose approved total observation time exceeds 300 ksec are open to the public as soon as the data are ready for analysis (no proprietary is awarded to the proposer).

(4) An uninterrupted continuous observation is guaranteed for up to 100 ksec. This limitation originates from moon light constraint to the star trackers' field of view, conflict with other time critical observations, and other operational/planning difficulty. The operation team accepts requests for uninterrupted observations longer than 100 ksec, but these will be carried out on a best-effort basis.

(5) Target of opportunity (TOO) proposals are allowed for short-lived events on known objects whose timing is uncertain. This category is referred to as "Reserved TOO observation.". In this case, condition to trigger the observation, the estimated probability of the event to take place during the AO-8 period, and the expected duration of the event should be specified in the proposal, as well as other information required for non-TOO observation proposals. Any proposal that does not name a specific target, such as "Observation of a forthcoming nearby supernova," or "next nova explosion in M31," will not be accepted. The number of potential targets for a TOO proposal is limited to at most 5 per proposal. The scientific justification of TOO proposals must specify how many targets should be observed (the number of "triggers") to fulfill the scientific goals of the proposal. If the total exposure time to complete the requested number of targets is equal to or larger than 300 ksec, the data will be open to public as soon as the first observation is finished. See (3) above.

(6) It is possible to submit proposals specifying the time of observations as TC (Time Critical) observations. These include observations of a specific binary phase, coordinated observations with other wavebands, monitoring a target several times with certain time intervals, roll-angle-constrained observation of diffuse sources, and so on. Multi-pointing observations of a variable target (even with no other constraints, such as "3 separate observations any time during the AO-8 period") are also considered TC. So is a background observation to be carried out close to the time of the main target observation. The Suzaku operation team will do their best to perform the observations as requested. In all these cases, the PI must check the TC flag in the target form. Even if the coordination with other instruments is not planned in detail at the time of the proposal submission, the PI is required to check the TC box if he/she would like to do so after the approval of the proposal. The observation without a TC flag is treated as non-TC observation, and the coordinated observation can only be carried out in the other telescopes follow the Suzaku schedule.

(7) Any genuinely unpredictable events, such as gamma-ray bursts and supernovae, can be observed as part of the DDT ("realtime TOO observation"). Proposals for realtime TOO observations are accepted at any time outside the selection process of ordinary proposals. See this ISAS page for further details. There are no proprietary data rights for realtime TOO observations. Note that real-time TOO proposals for gamma-ray bursts can be accepted from any investigators starting in AO-7.

(8) The Suzaku project will accept proposals using P-sum/timing mode for the XIS, as well as the normal imaging mode. In the P-sum/timing mode, photon pile-up is unimportant, and a time resolution as fast as 7.8 msec can be achieved, although only 1-dimentional image can be obtained. Note, however, that the P-sum/timing mode can be used only for XIS3, and neither Spaced-row Charge Injection nor CTI correction can be applied, and hence the energy resolution is significantly worse than in the normal imaging mode. In addition, calibration accuracy is not as good as that in the normal imaging mode. Refer to the technical description document for the details of the P-sum/timing mode.

(9) The project team has supported two default aim points since AO-1: the XIS nominal and the HXD nominal positions. The support for the HXD nominal poisition was dropped as of AO-7. As a result, the standard response matrices will not be provided for the HXD nominal pointing. No observations with non-standard readout clocks (P-sum/timing mode and window/burst options) will be carried out at the HXD nominal position. Note, however, that the operation team does not prohibit observations at the HXD nominal point with a standard XIS mode, at the proposers' own risk.

5. Review Process and Schedule

Researchers based in the US and affiliated with a US institution should submit their proposals to NASA. The deadline is 2012 November 16 at 4:30 pm EST for proposals submitted to NASA. After the US national review, a Japan-US merging committee will be convened in late February, 2013, and the final observing program will be published soon thereafter.

Accepted targets will be classified into three categories (A, B, and C) based on proposal ranking. Priority A targets will be preferentially observed during the AO-8 period (2013 Apr to 2014 Mar), and the observation are regarded as completed if the exposure time is more than 90% of the requested time. Priority B targets will be scheduled in this period as much as possible, but may be carried over to the next cycle. Observations of the priority B targets are regarded as completed if the observation covers more than 70% of the requested time. Priority C targets will be used as fillers when there are gaps in the schedule. Of the total available time T (=11902 ksec = 360 d x 38 ksec/d x 0.87), we will accept 0.6T (=7141 ksec), 0.3T (=3571 ksec) and 0.5T (=5951 ksec) for Key+A, B, and C proposals. This implies the oversubscription fraction of 40%. The oversubscribed targets will be scheduled if observing time remains after the observatory time, the calibration time, and DDT are assigned.

Reserved TOOs and time critical observations pose constraint on Suzaku operation. Hence total fraction of them is limited to be some 15% of the total available time. Note that we will review this fraction at the time of the merging committee meeting, based on the up-to-date information on the spacecraft power situation.

6. Data Rights

Normally, proposers of regular proposals have proprietary rights to the data for 1 year after the receipt of processed data. This does not apply to the data based on the proposals whose total exposure time (including those for priority C targets) is equal to or more than 300 ksec.

If you have any questions concerning Suzaku, visit the Feedback form.

This file was last modified on Wednesday, 25-Jan-2017 10:47:39 EST

NASA Astrophysics

  • FAQ/Comments/Feedback
  • Education Resources
  • Download Adobe Acrobat
  • A service of the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/ GSFC

    Suzaku Project Scientist: Dr. Robert Petre
    Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman

    Privacy Policy and Important Notices.