News & Opportunities

by Bryan Butler last modified Jan 04, 2017 by Davis Murphy

VLA Time Allocation Under a New Organization

On 20 November 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) selected Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) to manage the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) through a new 10-year cooperative agreement. The new agreement includes the operation of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), the North American share of the international Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and NRAO’s development laboratories and administrative and management functions, effective 1 October 2016.

The Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), which were recommended for divestment several years ago, are now independent facilities known as the Green Bank Observatory (GBO), and the Long Baseline Observatory (LBO).

Because of this reorganization, the NRAO 2017B Call for Proposals is only for observations with the VLA; the call for the GBT and VLBA/HSA/GMVA can be found at the GBO Call for Proposals and the LBO Call for Proposals, respectively. For the meantime the NRAO, GBO, and LBO will continue to run a single, joint proposal review and time allocation process, as described here.

VLA Sky Survey

During the B-configuration in the 2017B observing semester, observing for the VLA Sky Survey (VLASS) is expected to begin. In order to minimize the impact on PI projects, the length of all B-configurations will be extended for the duration of the survey. While this minimizes the impact, there is still an impact, and proposers should be aware of this, and pay special attention to the availability plot shown in the Proposal Guide section of this call.

Continuing Opportunities

Agreements for Joint Observations with the NRAO were made before the observatory was split into three: NRAO, GBO, and LBO.  Access to the Joint Observing program will continue for the GBT and VLBA, at least for semester 17B.

Joint Observations with Chandra X-ray Observatory

The community has 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, since semester 2016A, proposers to the NRAO 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 can 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 per year.   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

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.

Joint Proposals Between the GBT, LBO, and NRAO

Observing programs that require combinations of the GBT, VLBA, and/or the VLA should submit a proposal for each of the requested telescopes, with a clear justification for each, as has been the case to date. The proposals will be reviewed and considered jointly by the Time Allocation Committee. VLBI proposals which request the GBT or VLA (or the HSA, for example) as elements of the VLBI array do not need separate proposals---those telescopes can be selected as separate VLBI stations from a VLBA/HSA proposal.


Director's Discretionary Time Including Education and Public Outreach

Proposals for Director's Discretionary Time (DDT) may be submitted at any time. They must be submitted through the PST. DDT proposals are intended to address targets of opportunity, high-risk/high-return exploratory time, or other science opportunities deemed sufficiently urgent to justify prompt action. 

DDT proposals may also be submitted for the purpose of education and public outreach - for example, to image an iconic source or to support a educational opportunity for students. Such proposals should clearly justify the requirements for the requested time allocation and observing mode on any given instrument, and should describe the anticipated impact of the observation.  

While there is not an a priori limit to time that can be requested via DDT, it is expected that no more than 5% of the observing time on each telescope will be allocated for this purpose.

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 constraints. 
  • 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.  

Further information about each of these programs can be found on the Proposal Opportunities page.