NSF's NOIRLab Call for Standard Proposals: Semester 2023A
This Call for Proposals 2023A (CfP23A) covers the observing time period from 1 February 2023 – 31 July 2023.
Proposal Deadline: 30 September 2022 at 11:59 pm Mountain Standard Time (MST): note that this is a Friday evening in the US.
1. General Information on NSF's NOIRLab Observing Proposals
Proposals for standard observing programs at all ground-based facilities coordinated by the NSF's NOIRLab, which include US time on the telescopes of Gemini, CTIO (including SMARTS and SOAR), and KPNO (WIYN), as well as community-access time with other observatories (which for 2023A include Magellan, CHARA, Keck, Las Cumbras Observatory (LCO), and MINERA-Australis), can be submitted twice per year. For the 2023A semester, the deadline is:
- Update: Dual Anonymous 2-stage Review
Semester 2023A continues the Dual Anonymous Review Process (DARP), which began last semester in 2022B, for all observing proposals submitted to NOIRLab (including proposals submitted for time on the Gemini telescopes). This process requires that certain text sections of observing proposals must be anonymous, with these anonymous sections being:
1. Do not claim ownership of past work, e.g., "my previously funded work..." or "Our prior analysis demonstrates that…”
2. Do not include the names of the personnel associated with the proposal or their organizational affiliations. This includes but is not limited to, page headers, footers, diagrams, figures, or watermarks. This does not include references to past work, which should be included whenever relevant (see below).
3. Referencing is an essential part of demonstrating knowledge of the field and progress. When citing references within the proposal, use third person neutral wording. Do not refer to previous observing campaigns or other observatories in an identifying fashion.
4. If it is important to cite exclusive access datasets, non-public software, unpublished data, or findings that have been presented in public before but are not cite-able, proposers must use language such as "obtained in private communication" or "from private consultation" when referring to such potentially identifying work.
5. Do not include any acknowledgments, or the source of any grant funding.
- Update: COVID-19 and the Contreras Fire
- Standard Proposals Requesting Long Term Status
NOIRLab will accept proposals for scientific programs that extend beyond a single semester. Long-term status may be granted to a proposal for which the principal science goal of the proposal cannot be achieved without the full allocation of time. An investigator who wishes to request long-term status should include a summary of the request (e.g., "six nights per semester for three semesters") in the appropriate section of the proposal form. Long-term status is limited to three semesters.
If long-term status is granted, a progress report must be submitted each subsequent semester to inform the TAC that appropriate progress is being made. Progress reports should briefly summarize the scientific justification, provide a detailed discussion of progress to date, restate the number of observing runs still needed to complete the project, and give details needed for scheduling the proposal in the next semester.
Although the granting of long-term status by the TAC does carry with it a commitment for observing time in future semesters, NOIRLab reserves the right to terminate long-term status on the advice of the TAC if insufficient information concerning the progress of the project has been supplied by the Principal Investigator or in the event of telescope closures.
- Alfredo Zenteno, NSF's NOIRLab CSDC/TAC Program Head (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- also, please cc - Verne V. Smith (email@example.com)
2. Instructions for Submitting Semester 2023A Proposals
3. News and Updates for Semester 2023A
3.1 Dual Anonymous Review Process (DARP) Continues in 2023A
As noted in Section 1 above, a Dual Anonymous Review Process (DARP) is now used for all observing proposals submitted to NOIRLab (including proposals submitted for time on the Gemini telescopes). This process requires that the abstract, science justification, and experimental and technical design sections in all observing proposals must be anonymized. In the second stage of the process, additional non-anonymized information relevant to the proposal will be revealed to the review panel in order to obtain a final ranking
3.2 New--Magellan Observing Time in 2023A
Through the NSF's Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP), observing time for the NOIRLab community is available on the Magellan I and II telescopes (Baade and Clay, respectively) beginning in semester 2023A and continuing through 2028A. The time available for 2023A is 5 nights.
General information about the telescopes and instruments can be found at: https://obs.carnegiescience.edu/astronomers
The telescope and instrument combinations available in this Call are:
Baade (Magellan I)
- IMACS: a versatile wide-field imager and multi-object spectrograph
- FourStar: a wide-field near-infrared camera
- FIRE: a moderate resolution near-infrared echelette spectrograph
- MagE: a moderate resolution optical echelette spectrograph
Clay (Magellan II)
- MIKE: a high-throughput double echelle spectrograph
- LDSS: a high-efficiency, wide field multislit spectrograph
3.3 Keck I and Keck II Observing Time Continues in 2023A
Keck I Telescope: There will be a 10 night shutdown occurring in late April bright time in order to conduct repair work on the Keck I telescope pier.
KCWI: KCWI, with the red channel upgrade, KCRM, is expected to return to service in the May/June timeframe. Given the uncertainty in the commissioning schedule, updated availability information will be provided in October for TAC meetings and telescope scheduling.
KPF: Keck Planet Finder, a new PRV instrument on Keck I, is currently undergoing installation at the Observatory and is expected to become available for shared-risk use in the middle of the 23A semester. Updated availability information will be provided in October for TAC meetings and telescope scheduling. Documentation of KPF basic specifications will be made available and linked on the ‘Instruments Available’ webpage within the next two weeks.
NIRSPEC/NIRSPAO: Nirspec/Nirspao will be unavailable for 4 weeks in February for routine servicing to remove ice from the dewar window. Please also note that Nirspec and Nirspao nights may be scheduled in campaign mode to limit the number of reconfigs into AO during the semester.
KPIC: KPIC is not a fully commissioned instrument and is only available for shared-risk science in 23A in collaboration with and supported by the KPIC team.
- The vortex coronagraph in LGS mode is not available.
- The vortex coronagraph with the PyWFS is not available.
Please, see the NIRC2 manual (https://www2.keck.hawaii.edu/
At-Home (pajama mode) Observing:
- At-home observing will continue to be available to observers
- At-home observing requires the installation of software which only runs on linux and macOS operating systems.
- Observers using at home observing should plan to work with Keck staff to install and test the software several days ahead of their run to allow time for troubleshooting.
Twilight Cadence Observing: In 2023A, institutions will continue to be able to allocate one twilight observing program per telescope, for a total of up to two programs. On Keck I, OSIRIS-NGS (imager only) will be available, and on Keck II, NIRC2-NGS will be available. Please note that due to ongoing AO upgrades, there may be times in the semester when AO is unavailable for cadence observations. Cadence program PIs are responsible for development of instrument scripts, providing documentation, and training of staff needed to make the cadence program a turnkey operation.
SUBARU exchange: The SUBARU-KECK exchange will continue as in previous semesters with flexibility as to the number of nights available for exchange. The number of exchanged nights will be determined based on the demand from each community. Keck will offer LRIS, HIRES, OSIRIS, and MOSFIRE on Keck I, and DEIMOS, ESI, NIRSPEC/NIRSPAO, NIRES, and NIRC2 on Keck II. Subaru will offer facility instruments Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), HDS, IRCS (with NGSAO only, see below), MOIRCS, and FOCAS, as well as visiting instruments IRD, CHARIS + SCExAO, VAMPIRES, REACH, Fast PDI, MEC, and NsIR. Note that PIs must contact the instrument PI for visiting instruments in advance. Subaru may support half night allocations, but whole night allocations are preferred. Queue observing is the default observing mode for HSC; applicants who desire classical mode must justify their request. Please check the HSC queue mode website https://www.naoj.org/
Notes regarding Subaru facility and instrument availability in 23A:
- There will be 1-3 days downtime due to the scheduled maintenance work of the electrical system and the dome. The dates for downtime will be announced later.
- MOIRCS will be back online in 2023A with the shared-risk policy. SWIMS completed science operation at Subaru in S22B, and is not available any more.
- There will be 4 HSC runs in S23A at maximum from March to June. Note that some filters require permission from the PI of the filters. Please check the HSC website for details.
- New LGS+AO188 mode will be available with shared-risk status
- The following PI-type (visiting) instruments are available in S23A.
Please be reminded that proposals requesting PI-type instruments/devices must include the relevant PIs as Co-I of the proposal (see https://www.naoj.org/
- CHARIS with SCExAO+AO188 (including spectro-polarimetric mode)
- Fast PDI with SCExAO+AO188 (in a shared-risk mode)
- IRD with AO188 (in a shared-risk mode)
- MEC with SCExAO+AO188 (in a shared-risk mode)
- REACH (combination of SCExAO and IRD for single-mode fiber spectroscopy)
- VAMPIRES with SCExAO+AO188
- NsIR Wave Plate Unit (a visiting device for IRCS/SCExAO polarimetry mode)
- REACH can be used simultaneously with CHARIS with any dispersion modes, but the wavelength coverage of CHARIS will be from 1850nm to the longest wavelengths (please check the CHARIS website).
- Instrument switching between IRD, REACH, CHARIS, VAMPIRES, Fast PDI, and MEC during a single- or half-night observation is possible. Please check Subaru CfP for the time required for the switching the instruments.
3.4 NN-EXPLORE in 2023A: Time Available on the WIYN 3.5m, the CTIO/SMARTS 1.5m with CHIRON, and MINERVA-Australis.
NASA has made available to the US community 300 hours on the Minerva-Australis facility for the 2023A semester. The time is intended for exoplanet research, primarily of TESS targets but other exoplanet science will be considered. Proposed observing time will be allocated in hours and must include all science and calibration observations necessary to accomplish the science. More information can be requested by contacting David Ciardi at NExScI (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rob Wittenmyer at University of Southern Queensland (Rob.Wittenmyer@usq.edu.au).
As the MINERVA-Australis is a scientific consortium, there are a set of restrictions by which proposers must abide:
• The MINERVA-Australis has listed a set of “Collaboration Targets,” which are a set of targets that the collaboration is observing (see https://drive.google.com/file/d/1M4ee7qRmhMoldLqbngZD7qXMOQSzZvhV/view?usp=sharing__;!!PvBDto6Hs4WbVuu7!bQiLiXo3BVwkHQbR0BcXUQQTSbPCmfGjwn_M_AxEcZRASVtWNWsoGnp5bhGUX7dS24dGjMrw$ ) “Collaboration Targets” can be proposed for observation through the NASA time if the proposal principal investigator forms a collaboration with the appropriate MINERVA-Australis collaboration or the proposer and the MINERVA-Australis collaboration member come to a mutual agreement regarding the proposed observations.
• Observations will be made, on behalf of the NASA observers, in queue-mode by the MINERVA-Australis team.
• The MINERVA-Australis team will deliver the proposer’s raw data, 1D extracted spectra, and radial velocities (if desired by the proposer).
• Data obtained for US community observers will be archived at NExScI –through the ExoFOP service. Archived data will have the option to have a maximum 12 month proprietary period.
• Any publications arising from the utilization of NASA time on MINERVA-Australis are subject to the main MINERVA-Australis publication policy regarding the inclusion of the listed Architects and Builders [to be provided by the Collaboration] and must acknowledge the NN-EXPLORE Program.Note
3.5 CHARA Increases Time Available to 45 Nights in 2023A
The NOIRLab allocation of observing time on CHARA has increased to 45 nights for 2023A. The current instruments available are CLASSIC, CLIMB, PAVO, and MIRC-X/MYSTIC.
VEGA has been decommissioned and it is expected that SPICA (its replacement) will only become available, at the earliest, in 2023B.
More information on CHARA and its instruments can be found at http://www.chara.gsu.edu .
3.6 Las Cumbres Observatory
3.7 Gemini North and South
The Gemini Phase I Tool (PIT) will automatically add the time for the baseline partner calibrations to the total time requested for each target in the proposal.
3.8 Zwicky Transient Facility and ANTARES event brokering
The Mayall 4-m telescope is currently in the midst of survey observing with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). No time will be available through the NSF NOIRLab TAC.
Approximately 35 nights devoted to NN-EXPLORE programs will be available for NSF NOIRLab observing time in 2023A. More details on the NN-EXPLORE Program on WIYN can be found at: https://noirlab.edu/science/observing-noirlab/proposals/nn-explore
Information specific to proposing for time using the precision radial-velocity spectrograph NEID can be found at: https://www.wiyn.org/Instruments/wiynneid_call2022b.html
Open-access proposals, other than NNEXPLORE, can be submitted to WIYN, but these would only be scheduled if NNEXPLORE programs could not be scheduled for all of the NOIRLab WIYN time; in particular, proposals using only Hydra or ODI might have the best chance to be fit into time slots that could not fit into the NNEXPLORE schedule.
No new proposals are solicited in 2023A for the 0.9m with HDI. We are working on re-opening as soon as possible and will issue a call for proposals at that time.
Nights available in 2023A for new regular programs is approximately 100.
Instruments available: In 2023A, CTIO will be offering the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) and the Cerro Tololo Ohio State Multi-Object Spectrograph (COSMOS):
NEWFIRM: We expect to begin recommissioning the NEWFIRM wide Field IR imager on the Blanco telescope during the 2022B semester. (See articlefor further details). If all goes well, we will solicit Science Verification (SV) proposals from our user community and select a few to be executed in the second half of the 2023A semester. Clearly these dates depend on the performance of the instrument and could easily slip if problems need to be fixed. Updates on the NEWFIRM commissioning schedule can be found on the NEWFIRM webpage. Because of the anticipated high demand for NEWFIRM in future semesters, we expect that COSMOS will be retired at the end of the 2023A semester.
Remote Observing: See the Information on equipment and software requirements and how to carry out remote observations at Blanco at:
Note that we are waiving the requirement that all observers must have had previous observing experience at the telescope in order to carry out remote observations. However, we strongly encourage the involvement of experienced observers within your team in the planning and execution of your observations.
It is expected that approximately 48 nights of NOIRLab time will be available on SOAR for 2023A.
The SOAR website is located at:
SOAR AEON update -
TripleSpec4.1 can be requested in its most-used observing mode, which is a basic ABBA dither pattern suitable for point sources. The observing block will also include a nearby telluric standard and an optional arc. The instrument continues to be available in classical mode for observers who require more complex observations.
We continue to offer the Goodman spectrograph with both red and blue cameras, in several spectroscopic and imaging configurations.
For details, please see:
SOAR Target of Opportunity Update -
Detection of gravitational wave events is currently expected to resume in semester 2023A (O4). In contrast to the policy for the O3 campaign that ended in March 2020, we will treat approved GWE follow-up programs as standard ToO programs, governed by the current policy (https://noirlab.edu/science/
As previously, if there are competing requests for follow-up of the same event on the same night, the first proposal to trigger will have priority but must promptly share the raw data with any other approved proposal team that requests it.
SMARTS (1.5m with CHIRON and 0.9m with CFCCD)
3.11 NOIRLab and NASA Space Observatories Observing Time
NSF's NOIRLab collaborates with NASA Space Observatories – the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Chandra, and Fermi – to provide investigators with complementary ground-based observations in support of their programs. Investigators can obtain time on facilities available through NOIRLab through successful proposals for JWST, Fermi, HST, and Chandra programs. This collaboration allows proposers to avoid the double jeopardy inherent in having to pass through two separate TAC processes, and provides access to facilities essential to obtaining complementary ground-based O/IR data without regard to institutional affiliation. Time awarded through this process can be scheduled over two semesters to coincide with annual proposal cycles of space observatories. Classical observing time awarded and scheduled through this process will not be automatically extended or augmented to account for losses due to bad weather.
Currently this opportunity is subject to a limit of 5% of the available time on any given NOIRLab telescope (plus up to an additional 5% for joint JWST/Gemini proposals; see below), averaged over one year, for all proposals under this collaboration. The available time eligible for this opportunity currently includes all time available for standard (non-survey) proposals on the 4m Blanco telescope, the US share of time on the 4m SOAR telescope, and the US share of time for regular proposals on the twin 8m Gemini telescopes. Per NOIRLab time allocation policy, applications from astronomers and students who work at non-US institutions must indicate why the project cannot be done using other facilities available to the investigators and why US national facilities are needed.
Investigators are responsible for providing sufficient details about their ground-based observations as part of the proposal to the relevant space observatory. This information will be used by reviewers to judge the scientific merit and necessity of the ground-based observations to the overall science program, and by NOIRLab to review technical and scheduling feasibility. Please consult the appropriate space telescope call for proposals for instructions on where to enter this information.
Note for Gemini Time: Proposals that request observations with the Gemini telescopes must submit a separate Gemini proposal to NOIRLab using the Gemini PIT, to enable the observations to be entered into the Gemini queue system. Please see the special information below about joint JWST/Gemini proposals for 2023B and 2024A.
3.12 JWST/Gemini Joint Proposals for 2023B & 2024A
Note: this section does not pertain to observing semester 2023A. Proposers interested in Gemini follow-up to JWST observations in 2023A should either submit a regular Gemini proposal or apply to Gemini’s Fast Turnaround program.
In conjunction with JWST Cycle 2 observing, NOIRLab plans to offer up to an additional 5% of the US share of regular-proposal Gemini time in Semesters 2023B and 2024A for joint proposals using both JWST and Gemini, corresponding to approximately 6-8 nights total of high-priority queue-scheduled time in Bands 1 and 2. This JWST-focused time is in addition to the 5% time described in the preceding section for joint proposals across all space observatories. Time will be distributed across both semesters and both Gemini telescopes.
Guidelines for this opportunity are as follows:
- Investigators should describe their Gemini observations in their JWST Cycle 2 proposal according to the guidelines in the preceding section and in the forthcoming JWST Call for Proposals. The scientific merit and technical feasibility of these observations will be reviewed through the JWST Cycle 2 process. Proposers should clearly describe how the combination of JWST and Gemini observations is essential to achieve the program’s scientific goals.
- In addition to their JWST Cycle 2 proposal, investigators must submit a pro forma Gemini proposal to NOIRLab through the Gemini PIT by the 2023B Phase I deadline at the end of March 2023. This is to enable the incorporation of approved joint programs into the Gemini queue. Note that this proposal should be submitted by the 2023B deadline regardless of whether the requested Gemini observations fall in 2023B, 2024A, or both.
- Gemini time will be queue-scheduled and should be requested in units of hours.
- This opportunity is primarily intended to support programs that do not require concurrent observations between JWST and Gemini. Programs requiring concurrent observations are subject to more detailed feasibility constraints and should be discussed with STScI and NOIRLab/Gemini in advance of proposing.
- STScI and NOIRLab reserve the right to cancel any allocations made under this opportunity in the event that they are determined to be infeasible.
- Publications resulting from allocations under this opportunity should include the required acknowledgements for both JWST and Gemini.
4. General Information about Facilities Available through NOIRLab
4.1 Facilities List
Approximate nights available for new standard 2023A programs
8m Gemini North
8m Gemini South
8m Subaru (through time exchange)
NN-EXPLORE 300 hrs + 180 hrs for regular programs
6 x 1m aperture
Global telescope network of 1m and 2m telescopes
1250 hrs (1m)
200 hrs (2m)
|MINERVA-Australis||0.7m x 5||300 hrs||https://www.usq.edu.au/hes/school-of-mathematics-physics-and-computing/mt-kent-observatory|
Magellan (Clay + Baade)
4.2 Telescope and Instrument Lists (with Instrument Proposal Code and Web-link)
Subaru (Gemini Exchange time)
Visiting Instruments on Subaru offered in 2022A (limited to one or two runs). Proposals to use visiting instruments must include the instrument PIs as Co-investigators.
Fast PDI : (in shared-risk mode): polarization differential imaging (PDI) with a high speed (>kHz) near-IR (950 - 1860 nm) low-noise camera (C-RED One), optimized for high contrast imaging of circumstellar disks with SCExAO+AO188.
IRD - Infrared Doppler: (in shared-risk mode): infrared high-dispersion, high resolution (up to 70,000) fiber-fed spectrometer. IRD SSP is started in 2019A – any IRD proposal must clarify how its scientific aim is different from SSP. The observing mode REACH (SCExAO+IRD), is available.
MEC (in shared-risk mode): the MKID Exoplanet Camera is a near-IR (800-1400nm) photon-counting low-resolution (R~5) integral field spectrograph optimized for high contrast imaging with SCExAO+AO188.
VAMPIRES : The Visible Aperture Masking Polarimetric Imager for Resolved Exoplanetary Strucutres is a visible light instrument on the SCExAO system. https://www.naoj.org/Projects/SCEXAO/scexaoWEB/030openuse.web/040vampires.web/indexm.html
NsIR Wave Plate Unit: for IRCS/SCExAO polarimetry mode.
Magellan I (Baade)
Magellan II (Clay)
CTIO 4m Blanco
LCO-2m Global Network
MuSCAT3: Four-channel simultaneous imager https://lco.global/observatory/instruments/muscat3/
LCO-1m Global Network
5. How to Acknowledge Use of NSF's NOIRLab Facilities
There are a variety of credit lines which are appropriate for citing the use of data from one or more of the NOIRLab facilities. Please acknowledge the proper observatories by using the appropriate credit line as described in the following link: