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RXTE Information - Cycle 11 Guest Observer Program RXTE

The schedule for RXTE Cycle 11 is as follows:

  • Release Date - January 31, 2005, as part of ROSES-2005

    ** NSPIRES Proposal cover Page Form ** Click here

  • Due Date for Notices of Intent - September 19, 2005
  • Due Date for Proposal Submission - September 19, 2005, 4:30pm ET
  • Proposal Peer Review - November, 2005
  • Start of Cycle 11 observations - on or around March 1, 2006
The RXTE Solicitation (C.7 in Table 2) of the ROSES-2005 Announcement contains detailed information about the program.

This Announcement solicits proposals for participation in the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) program to acquire and analyze scientific data from the RXTE X-ray Observatory, for observations to be carried out in the interval beginning around March 1, 2006, and lasting for twelve months.

Guest Investigator funding will continue to be available for RXTE Cycle 11. The Cycle 11 Peer Review will thus be a two-stage process, similar to the process used previously for RXTE Cycles 1-4 and Cycles 8-10. In the first stage, the scientific and technical merits of submitted proposals will be assessed. The PIs of proposals that are successful at Stage 1 will be invited to submit budget requests. These budgets will be assessed in the Stage 2 review.

In addition to the Remote Proposal Submission (RPS), all proposers must use NSPIRES to:

  • submit a Notice of Intent for each proposal, and
  • submit an NSPIRES Cover Page for each proposal

A complete proposal submission will thus include:

  • Notice of Intent
  • HQ Cover Page

To GSFC via RPS:
  • RPS Cover Page
  • Target Forms
  • Scientific Justification

Notices of Intent are due on or before September 19, 2005. The NSPIRES Electronic submission Cover Page and supporting data is due at the time of submission of the full proposal, on or before September 19, 2005. NOTE: New with NSPIRES: The organization with which you are affiliated must submit the NSPIRES electronic proposal, and not the PI.

This information is discussed in the 2005 NASA HQ NRA Proposers Guidebook. Note that proposers responding to this NRA should consult the most recent available version of the Guidebook.

If you have questions or problems with submitting NOIs or your HQ cover pages, please consult the NSPIRES Help Page , or submit your technical support question to nspires-help@nasaprs.com..

While the process of submitting proposals for RXTE Cycle 11 is similar to that used for Cycle 10, there is a major difference. To be compliant, PIs MUST fill out the NSPIRES cover page. Electronic submission of science target forms will still be achieved using RPS. The content of these forms is unchanged. Scientific justifications will also be submitted electronically using the same submission process used for Cycles 8-10.

As always, any questions about this process should be directed to the the RXTE Guest Observer Facility.

New Feature of RXTE Cycle 11

Here, we give an overview of important changes between previous cycles and the current cycle. We also include some information that is important to keep in mind, but is essentially unchanged from previous cycles.

Software, response matrices for PCA/HEXTE simulations

  • Response matrices and PHA files for simulations are available via anonymous FTP at legacy.gsfc.nasa.gov in the directory xte/nra/responses.

  • The proposal aids PIMMS, viewing, recommd, hextemporize and hexterock are available on the web or via anonymous FTP at legacy.gsfc.nasa.gov in the directory xte/nra/software.

    Fully Electronic Proposal Submission for RXTE Cycle 11


    NO hardcopies need be sent by postal mail for participation in this Cycle. RPS submission of the cover forms is still required. In addition, the cover forms and scientific justifications should be submitted electronically as PostScript files.

    For electronic submission, PIs should:

    1. Enter their proposal data into RPS, saving often, and using the "Verify" button to perform final checks before submission. (This step is identical to previous RXTE cycles.)

    2. Generate one target form per requested observation, using RPS. You are required to submit one target form per possible observation. For example, if you are requesting "the first three of the twenty most interesting X-ray transients", you should submit twenty (not three) target forms, one for each possible trigger.

    3. Submit the forms using the 'Submit' button in RPS.

    4. Wait (seconds-minutes) for the RPS acknowledgment, which will contain a 3-digit proposal submission number.

    5. Create a PostScript file of the forms, using the 'LaTeX' or 'PostScript' buttons within in RPS.

    6. Upload two (2) PostScript files per proposal, via RPS, one containing the forms, the other the Scientific Justification, technical feasibility information, and status of previous RXTE observations ("track record"), as specified in the Announcement and Appendices - particularly Section C.2.2. Full instructions on how to upload can be found in RPS. The two files must be named
      • nnn_flast_f.ps

      • nnn_flast_sj.ps


      • nnn is the 3-digit proposal submission number supplied by RPS;

      • flast is the first initial and last name of the PI;

      • _f is the forms;

      • _sj is the scientific justification;

      e.g.: 017_asmale_f.ps, 017_asmale_sj.ps

    7. Wait (seconds-minutes) for a second RPS acknowledgment, confirming receipt and completion of the electronic submission process.


    • When using RPS, remember to frequently save the html file containing your form entries. Files you're working on can be saved to your hard disk, and reloaded from there, with the RPS 'Save' and 'Reload' buttons.

    • If electronic submission is infeasible for you, please contact the RXTE Guest Observer Facility to make alternative arrangements.

    • PIs at non-US locations should prepare the PostScript files for their Scientific Justifications using US paper sizes, or risk truncation of their text when the GOF prints out copies of the proposals for the Peer Reviewers. In LaTeX, paper sizes can be adjusted using

      or similar.

    Other Features of RXTE Cycle 11

    Here, we give an overview of important information to keep in mind, that is essentially unchanged from previous cycles.

    • Proposers are specifically encouraged to consider projects that would profit uniquely from large amounts of observing time, to enable large-scope investigations to be achieved. Large proposals, defined as those that request observing times of 500 ksec or more, are thus allowed 6 pages for the Scientific Problem and Technical Feasibility section of the proposal (see Information for Proposers C.1.1, C.2.2.2).

    • The PCA is currently being operated with reduced duty cycles for three out of the five PCU detectors. Proposers should calculate exposure times and discuss technical feasibility with an expectation of using an average of three PCUs. If special circumstances warrant or require the use of four or five PCUs for an observation (e.g., faint source spectroscopy or investigations of weak QPO signals), then a quantative justification must be clearly stated in the Technical Feasibility section. (Although every effort will be made to fulfill requests for more than three PCUs, operational limitations make it impossible to guarantee that the requested number of PCUs will be available.) In addition, it should be noted that some observations, especially those for source monitoring and/or extragalactic sources, may be conducted with two PCUs, and proposers should discuss the expected impact of this limitation on their observing program.

    • This Cycle covers 12 months of observing time.

    • All proposals submitted in response to this Announcement must be for new pointed RXTE observations using the PCA and/or HEXTE instruments. Proposals for analysis of ASM data, proposals for analysis of archival RXTE data, and proposals for complementary observations or theoretical work that do not require new pointed observations should not be submitted.

    • As before, proposers who have previously been awarded RXTE observing time are required to append a page to their proposal listing by Cycle, title, and proposal number their previously accepted RXTE proposals and the status of the data analysis or publications that have followed from them.

    • A Cycle 11 proposal for a target already accepted for observation by RXTE in one or more of the previous Cycles is likely to be more successful at the peer review if it has a different observing plan or scientific emphasis from previous proposals, and the scientific investigation cannot be completed with archival data. The Cycle 1, Cycle 2, Cycle 3, Cycle 4, Cycle 5, Cycle 6, Cycle 7, Cycle 8, Cycle 9, and Cycle 10 programs can be perused in their entireity by following the links just given, or browsed using Argus.

    • Unobserved TOO targets approved in the previous Cycle must be reproposed for Cycle 11, if the PI still wants to observe them. The observing status of Cycle 10 TOOs can be found on the SOF's scorecards.

    • For TOO proposals, the probability that the TOO will be triggered during the Cycle must be estimated. Include the estimate, and any justification, in the proposal text.

    • Alternate targets are no longer supported due to the operational burden.

    • Faint source exposure times for the HEXTE may be as long as 500ks. It was earlier stated that cosmic background fluctuations would dominate Poisson errors for exposures above 100-200ks. However, new estimates which account for the 40% dead-time fraction and loss of detector PWB2 indicate that this faint source confusion limit may not be reached until at least 500ks - see the new HEXTE Feasibility Chapter for details.

    • The minimum observing time that can be requested for a single pointing is 1000 seconds. This limit applies to raster scans and monitoring observations as well as to single observations.

    If you'd like to be a Peer Reviewer ....

    The RXTE Cycle 11 Peer Review will take place in the Baltimore/Washington area in mid-November 2005.

    Reviewers must have a PhD at the time of the Peer Review.

    If you would like to be considered as a reviewer, please email Mike Arida at peer_review@rosserv.gsfc.nasa.gov.

    RXTE Instrument Configurations: the easy route

    For all sources with total PCA count rates less than 1200/s (including all extragalactic observations) and HEXTE count rates less than 80/s, the SOC strongly recommends that proposers use the following set of instrument configurations:

        PCA EA1:           Standard1
        PCA EA2:           Standard2
        PCA EA3:           GoodXenon1_2s
        PCA EA4:           GoodXenon2_2s
        PCA EA5:           Idle
        PCA EA6:           Idle
        HEXTE Cluster A:   E_8us_256_DX1f
        HEXTE Cluster B:   E_8us_256_DX1f

    Note that RPS does not allow one to leave an EA unused. In this case one has to explicitly specify "Idle".

    Use defaults for all other HEXTE parameters.

    Note that this advice does not relieve the proposer from the obligation of providing estimates for the expected event count rates.

    In these cases there is no need to run recommd or elaborately justify the chosen configurations.

    If you have a question about RXTE, please send email to one of our help desks.

    This page is maintained by the RXTE GOF and was last modified on Friday, 18-May-2007 16:00:03 EDT.