News & Opportunities

by Davis Murphy last modified Jan 05, 2016

NRAO Time Allocation Under a New Cooperative Agreement

Beginning on October 1, 2016, the NRAO will operate under a new 10-year cooperative agreement between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Associated Universities Inc. (AUI). The agreement includes operation of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), the North American share of the international Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Central Development Laboratory (see the AUI news article ). The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) will continue to be managed by AUI under a separate cooperative agreement for the foreseeable future. AUI is working with the NSF on a path forward that continues operations of these world-leading facilities and integrates them into an overarching vision for astronomy research. The current call for proposals for semester 2016B straddles the transition of the NRAO to the new cooperative agreement. From the user perspective, for the moment there is no change in the way in which NRAO conducts its telescope time allocation process for the VLA, GBT, and VLBA. Users should propose for observing time in semester 2016B on the GBT and VLBA through the NRAO using the same procedures and software tools used in previous semesters. We will inform the community of any developments that may impact their use of the GBT or the VLBA as soon as they are known.

New Opportunity

ALMA Available for the Global 3mm VLBI Array (GMVA)

New for semester 2016B, phased ALMA may be requested as part of the GMVA. Both the phased ALMA and the Large Millimeter Telescope (see the 2015A call for proposals) can be selected using the Other Stations text field in the PST. Successful proposals will be considered for scheduling in ALMA Cycle 4, corresponding to the Spring 2017 GMVA session. Please see the section on VLBA, HSA, and GMVA proposals in this Call.

Continuing Opportunities:

Joint Observations with Chandra X-ray Observatory

In previous semesters, the community has had the opportunity to propose for observing time on NRAO facilities through a joint program with the Chandra X-ray Observatory.  The NRAO would like to alert the community to the fact that, beginning in semester 2016A proposers to the NRAO will have the opportunity to request time on Chandra, to be awarded on the recommendation of the NRAO Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC) and approved by the NRAO Director. Up to 120 ksec will be made available to NRAO proposers annually.  See the Joint Observations with Chandra page for details.

Joint Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

By agreement between the NRAO and the Space Telescope Science Institute, STScI will be able to award up to 3% of the available time on NRAO's North American facilities to highly ranked proposals that request time on both HST and NRAO telescopes.  In return, STScI has offered 30 orbits of HST time for allocation by the NRAO TAC to proposals submitted for the NRAO deadlines for Semester 2016B and Semester 2017A.   See the Joint Observations with HST page for details.

Joint Observations with Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission

To foster correlative observations, a joint Swift/NRAO observing program has been established, detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding. By this agreement, the Swift Program permits NRAO to award up to 300 kiloseconds of Swift observing time per year.   Similarly, NRAO permits the Swift Guest Investigator (GI) Program to award NRAO observing time.  See the Joint Observations with Swift page for details.

Joint Observations with Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

We remind the community that it is possible to propose for observing time on NRAO facilities through the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Joint Proposal Opportunity or the Cooperative Proposal Opportunity.  See the Joint Observations with Fermi page for details.

Other Proposal Opportunities

The NRAO would like to make users aware that there are additional proposal opportunities as follows:

  • High Risk Proposals: As a means of maximizing its scientific impact through cutting-edge observations, the Observatory encourages the submission of high-risk/high-reward proposals.
  • Commensal Observing: NRAO telescopes and backends are sufficiently flexible in many cases to allow two experiments to run commensally. To the degree that this enhances science return from the telescopes, NRAO wishes to support commensal projects subject to resource and scheduling
  • Filler Programs: Some programs are not time critical, strongly dependent on array configuration, or require highly subscribed LST ranges. Such programs may be able to take advantage of "filler" time. There are opportunities for so-called "filler" programs on the GBT, VLA, and VLBA.  

Further information about each of these programs can be found here.