Facilities > GBT > Proposing > Rapid Response Science

Rapid Response Science

by Karen ONeil last modified Apr 25, 2011 by Pat Murphy

Rapid Response Science

NRAO Telescope Plan for Observing Unique Astronomical Events

The NRAO has established three types of proposals for Rapid Response Science, as detailed below. At present, Rapid Response Science is limited to a maximum of 5% of the total EVLA and VLBA observing time, and 2% of the total GBT observing time. Proposals for coordinated observations with other observatories should be submitted for refereeing at normal NRAO proposal deadlines, or via the joint Chandra, Spitzer, and Fermi programs, but not via the Rapid Response process.

Rapid Response Science proposals must be submitted using the NRAO Proposal Submission Tool (PST), accessible from NRAO Interactive Services. Approved proposals for Rapid Response Science will be listed separately for the GBT, EVLA, and VLBA.

The following table summarizes each Rapid Responce Science proposal type. For the proposals to be handled properly, it is essential that the proposer use the Tool to select the correct proposal type.

Type Deadline Evaluation Proprietary Period
1. Known Transient Phenomena Feb 1, Jun 1, Oct 1 Referees 12 months
2. Exploratory Time Any Time PSC subset 6 months
3. Target of Opportunity Any Time PSC subset 6 months or less

Known Transient Phenomena: These proposals request time to observe phenomena that are predictable in general, but not in detail, e.g., a proposal to observe the next flaring X-ray binary that meets certain criteria. Specific triggering criteria are required. These proposals are evaluated as part of the normal refereeing and scheduling process, and are subject to the normal NRAO proposal deadlines. The proprietary period for observations of Known Transient Phenomena is 12 months. To trigger an observation approved as a Known Transient Phenomenon, the proposer sends e-mail to toosoc@nrao.edu. In the PST, select a Proposal Type of either Regular or Large, and also select an Observing Type of Triggered Transient.

Exploratory Time: These proposals are for small amounts of time, typically a few hours or less, in response to a recent discovery, possibly to facilitate future submission of a larger proposal. Examples include A configuration EVLA proposals that follow up on B configuration discoveries made after the A configuration deadline, a newly identified SiO maser source that is a hot enough topic to warrant a VLBI image within a couple months, or EVLA observations to find the position of a distant extragalactic water-maser just found by the GBT, so that VLBA observations may be proposed. In general, there will not be a need for immediate scheduling with these proposals, but they may need to be observed in the current EVLA configuration rather than waiting 16 months, or should be observed with the VLBA without waiting for an entire proposal cycle and possible dynamic scheduling. Proposals for Exploratory Time will be evaluated by a subset of the EVLA/VLBA Proposal Selection Committee, and may or may not be sent to external referees. The possibility that a proposer forgets about or misses a proposal deadline, or just discovered that he/she was granted time for a particular source on some other telescope, will not constitute sufficient justification for granting of observing time by this process. Thus, these proposals must include a clear description of why the proposal could not have been submitted for refereeing at a previous deadline, and why it should not wait for the appropriate upcoming deadline (e.g., the next deadline for the relevant EVLA configuration). Notification of the disposition of Exploratory Time proposals normally will be within two weeks of reception of the proposal; some of these proposals may be put in a queue such that they may or may not be observed. The proprietary period for Exploratory Time will be six months. In the PST, select a Proposal Type of Rapid Response, then select Exploratory Time. Do not select an Observing Type of Triggered Transient.

Target of Opportunity: These proposals are for true targets of opportunity: unexpected or unpredicted phenomena such as supernovae in nearby galaxies, or extreme X-ray or radio flares. If you are uncertain whether the phenomenon is covered under an approved Known Transient proposal, please e-mail schedsoc@nrao.edu. Target of Opportunity proposals are evaluated rapidly, with scheduling done as quickly as possible and as warranted by the nature of the transient phenomenon. Notification of the disposition of Target of Opportunity proposals occurs within two weeks and may be faster, depending on the requirements of the proposed observation. The proprietary period for Targets of Opportunity are decided on a case-by-case basis, and are never longer than six months. In the PST, select a Proposal Type of Rapid Response, then select Target of Opportunity. Do not select an Observing Type of Triggered Transient.