HST Cycle 28 Filling Out the APT Proposal Form

This page walks the proposer through the various parts of the Astronomer's Proposal Tool (APT), the software through which HST proposals are developed and submitted. 



As described in HST Cycle 28 Guidelines and Checklist for Phase I Proposal Preparation, a Phase I proposal consists of a completed APT proposal form and an attached PDF file. The present chapter describes the items that must be filled out in the APT proposal form; this information is also available from the context-sensitive help in APT. Not every item described here needs to be filled out for every proposal. For example, some items are only relevant for observing proposals, while others are only relevant for archival proposals. APT will automatically let you know which items need to be filled out, depending on which proposal type you choose. HST Cycle 28 Preparation of the PDF Attachment describes the items that must be addressed in the attached PDF file.

Introductory Material

Title

The title of your proposal should be informative, and must not exceed two printed lines. Please use mixed case instead of all upper case.

Abstract

Write a concise abstract describing the proposed investigation, including the main science goals and the justification for requesting observations or funding from HST. The abstract must be written in standard ASCII and should be no longer than 20 lines of 85 characters of text. This limit is enforced by APT.

Proposal Phase

No action is required by the proposer at this time. For Cycle 28 the Phase will automatically be set to ‘PHASE I’. See HST Cycle 28 Proposal Submission Policies for a description of the different phases in the HST proposal process.

Category 

Select one of the following categories:

• GO—General Observer Proposal
• SNAP—Snapshot Proposal
• AR—Archival Research Proposal


Proposals for Director’s Discretionary Time submitted outside of the normal review cycles should select:
• GO/DD—Director’s Discretionary Time Proposal

Cycle

For a Cycle 28 Proposal, enter '28' (this is the default)

Requested Resources

Primary and Parallel Orbits

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

Enter the total number of orbits requested for Primary observations and the total number of orbits requested for Coordinated Parallel observations OR enter the total number of orbits requested for Pure Parallel observations. Only whole orbits can be requested, and only whole orbits will be allocated. In general, only the boxes for ‘This Cycle’ need to be filled out. However, Long-Term Proposals should provide a year-by-year breakdown of the orbits requested by also filling out the boxes for ‘Next Cycle’ (Cycle 29) and ‘After Next’ (Cycle 30).

Total Targets

(This item appears in the APT form only for SNAP Proposals)

Specify the total number of targets requested. Multiple visits to the same source should be counted as multiple targets. 

Exclusive Access Period

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

Enter the requested exclusive access period (formerly known as a proprietary period), of either 0, 3, 6 (months), that will apply to all observations in the program. The default exclusive access period is 0 for Large and Treasury GO Programs, and 6 for Medium GO Programs (JWST Preparatory Observations have a default of zero months), and 6 months for Small GO programs. See Section  Data Rights for more information. The benefits of or need for a non-default exclusive access period must be discussed in the ‘Special Requirements’ section of the proposal.

Scientific Category

Specify one Scientific Category from the list below. Please adhere to our definitions of these categories. If you find that your proposal fits into several categories, then select the one that you consider most appropriate. If you are submitting a Calibration AR Proposal, then choose the Scientific Category for which your proposed calibration will be most important.


• SOLAR SYSTEM ASTRONOMY: This includes all objects belonging to the solar system (except the Sun, Mercury, and Venus), such as planets, minor planets, comets, asteroids, planetary satellites, and Kuiper-belt objects.

EXOPLANETS AND EXOPLANET FORMATION: This includes all objects belonging to known extrasolar planetary systems, and observations of their host stars, as well as all studies of circumstellar and proto-planetary disks.

• STELLAR PHYSICS AND STELLAR TYPES: This includes stars of all temperatures and evolutionary phases, including pre-main sequence stars, supernovae, pulsars, X-ray binaries, CVs, and planetary nebulae. It also applies to ISM and circumstellar matter in the Milky Way.

• STELLAR POPULATIONS AND THE INTERSTELLAR MEDIUM: This includes resolved stellar populations in globular clusters, open clusters or associations, and the general field of the Milky Way and other nearby galaxies. Studies of color-magnitude diagrams, luminosity functions, initial-mass functions, internal dynamics and proper motions are in this category.

• GALAXIES: This includes studies of the initial mass function, stellar content and globular clusters in distant galaxies, galaxy morphology and the Hubble sequence, and low surface-brightness galaxies. Starbursts, IR-bright galaxies, dwarf galaxies, galaxy mergers and interactions may fall under this heading. This category also includes studies of gas distribution and dynamics in distant galaxies. Starbursts, IR-bright galaxies, dwarf galaxies, galaxy mergers, and interactions may also fall under this heading if the emphasis is on the ISM. 

• THE INTERGALACTIC MEDIUM AND THE CIRCUMGALACTIC MEDIUM: This category includes the physical properties and evolution of absorption-line systems detected along the line of sight to quasars, inflow and outflow of gas to the CGM/IGM, and other observations of the diffuse IGM, and the spectroscopy and imaging of damped Ly-alpha systems.

SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLES AND ACTIVE GALAXIES: This encompasses active galaxies and quasars, including both studies of the active phenomena themselves, and of the properties of the host galaxies that harbor AGNs and quasars. The definition of AGN is to be interpreted broadly; it includes Seyfert galaxies, BL Lac objects, radio galaxies, blazars, and LINERs.

LARGE SCALE STRUCTURE OF THE UNIVERSE: This includes studies of the structure and properties of clusters and groups of galaxies, strong and weak gravitational lensing, galaxy evolution through observations of galaxies at intermediate and high redshifts (including for example, the Hubble Deep Fields), cosmology in general, the structure of the universe as a whole, cosmological parameters and the extra-galactic distance scale.


Proposals in these Scientific Categories will be reviewed by panels of the same names.

Keywords

 

From the list of Scientific Keywords (see HST Cycle 28 Appendix B: Scientific Keywords), please select those that best describe the science goals of the proposal. Your choice here is important. Based on the keywords that you specify, your proposal will be assigned to specific reviewers during the proposal review. Please give as many keywords as possible, but not more than five. You must give at least two.


Special Proposal Types


Chandra ksec

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

If you are asking for both HST and Chandra observing time then list the requested number of Chandra kiloseconds. You should then also provide detailed information on the Chandra observations in the ‘Coordinated Observations’ section of the proposal. If you are not requesting any new Chandra observations (or if you have Chandra time that has already been awarded), then enter ‘0’.

XMM-Newton ksec

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

If you are asking for both HST and XMM-Newton observing time then list the requested number of XMM-Newton kiloseconds. You should then also provide detailed information on the XMM-Newton observations in the ‘Coordinated Observations’ section of the proposal. If you are not requesting any new XMM-Newton observations (or if you have XMM-Newton time that has already been awarded), then enter ‘0’.

NOAO Nights

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

If you are asking for both HST and NOAO observing time then list the requested number of nights on NOAO telescopes. You should then also provide detailed information on the NOAO observations in the ‘Coordinated Observations’ section of the proposal. If you are not requesting any new NOAO observations (or if you have NOAO time that has already been awarded), then enter ‘0’.

NRAO Hours

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

If you are asking for both HST and NRAO observing time then list the requested number of NRAO hours. You should also provide detailed information on the NRAO observations in the ‘Coordinated Observations’ section of the proposal. If you are not requesting any new NRAO observations, then enter ‘0’.

TESS Targets

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

If you are asking for additional TESS short-cadence targets in addition to HST observing time, then list the requested number of additional TESS targets. You should also provide detailed information on the TESS targets in the ‘Coordinated Observations’ section of the proposal. If you are not requesting any new TESS targets, then enter ‘0’.

Theory

(This item appears in the APT form only for AR Proposals)

Mark this keyword if you are submitting an AR Theory Proposal.

Legacy

(This item appears in the APT form only for AR Proposals)

Mark this keyword if you are submitting an AR Legacy Proposal.

Cloud Computation

(This item appears in the APT form only for AR Proposals)

Mark this keyword if you are submitting an AR Cloud Computation Studies Proposal

Calibration

Mark this keyword if you are submitting a Calibration Proposal. This keyword can be set for both GO and AR Proposals.

Treasury

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

Mark this keyword if you are submitting a GO Treasury Proposal.

UV Initiative

Mark this keyword if your proposal is eligible for the UV Initiative. This keyword can be set for both GO and AR Proposals.

JWST Preparatory Science

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

Mark this keyword if your proposal is eligible for the JWST Initiative.

Fundamental Physics

Mark this keyword if your proposal is eligible for the Fundamental Physics Initiative. This keyword can be set for both GO and AR Proposals.

Proposal PDF Attachment

List the location on your computer of the PDF file to be attached to your Phase I submission. This file should contain the items described in HST Cycle 28 Preparation of the PDF Attachment.

Team Expertise and Background

Selecting the arrow to the left of the items in the Tree Editor of APT will show subordinate sections that can be selected to enter additional information. For Proposal Information, this includes Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator information (see below), and the Team Expertise and Background selection. The Team Expertise and Background selection provides a free-format text box to enter the relevant information. See HST Cycle 28 Anonymous Proposal Reviews for details on what information to provide here. Please note: the box supports ascii text. Special text markup and LaTeX characters will not show correctly. 

Investigator Information 

Principal Investigator

Enter the first and/or last name of the PI. Please use standard ASCII. Entering the first few letters (at least two) and pressing enter or tab will bring up a window containing a list of matches from our proposer database. Clicking on your entry will supply APT with the address information. For U.S. PIs, the institutional affiliation is defined as the institution that will receive funding if the proposal is approved.

If you are not in the database, click on "New Entry". If you are in the database, but the address information is incorrect, click on "Update This Address." Both clicks will take you to the ProPer tool so you can be added to, or update information in, the database. Once you have entered your information into ProPer, you must redo the database search and supply APT with the updated information.

APT will not compromise the anonymous status of the proposal. It will keep investigator and institutional information, as well as the separate Team Expertise and Background section, from the TAC and Panels until they are requested by an authorized person to be utilized in a last sensibility check.

Contact

For Large and Treasury Programs, we will contact the proposer within 1-2 weeks of the submission deadline if we need to verify our understanding of the appropriate scheduling constraints. If a Co-Investigator is to serve as the contact for this verification, then the Phase I Contact box should be set accordingly. Any person may be designated as the Contact.

Co-Investigators

Co-investigators (Co-Is) can be added in APT as necessary in Phase I; once a program is approved (Phase II), a Co-I can only be added with prior approval. By default, APT will provide one blank Co-I template. Please add other Co-Is or delete as necessary. There is a limit of 999 Co-Is on any proposal. For each Co-I, enter the name and select the correct person from the list of database matches. As for PIs, new investigators or address updates should be submitted via ProPer. For U.S. Co-Is the institutional affiliation is defined as the institution that will receive funding if the proposal is approved.

If a proposal has a non-U.S. PI and one or more U.S. Co-Is, then you must select one of the U.S. Co-Is to be the Admin PI, who will oversee the grant funding for U.S. investigators.

Targets

Your proposal can include observations of fixed targets (i.e., all targets outside the solar system whose positions can be defined by specific celestial coordinates), generic targets (i.e., targets defined by certain general properties, rather than by specific coordinates), and solar-system targets (i.e., moving targets). Targets that have not yet been discovered or identified may generally be included only under special circumstances, and should be given generic target names.

GO Proposals must include a list of all targets. For proposals with a large number of fixed targets, there is a capability to ingest a comma-separated text file with the appropriate target information. See the Roadmap (“Fill in the Target Information”) for details.

Target Number

Each target in your proposal will be assigned a unique number by APT. A different target must be defined when different coordinates or a different target description are required. Separate targets should be defined and listed if observations are planned at several points within an extended object. For example, acquiring spectra at three different locations within the Crab nebula requires each point to have its own target number, name and co-ordinates, such as CRAB1, CRAB2 and CRAB3. However, if you are proposing a large field mosaic with the same exposures at each point, you may define one target for the object. You should specify in the Description of Observations the exact number of fields you plan to observe.

Target Name

The target naming conventions for HST are defined in detail in the HST Phase II Proposal Instructions. Please adhere to these naming conventions throughout your proposal. For generic targets use a short text description either of the target location (e.g., RANDOM-FIELD) or of the target itself (e.g., NEXT-SUPERNOVA).

Provisional Coordinates

Supply the coordinates for fixed targets only. In Phase I, target positions with accuracies of ~1 arc minute are sufficient for the TAC and panel review (except in crowded fields where the identity of the target may be in question). However, in Phase II significantly more accurate coordinates will be required, and it is the responsibility of the proposers to provide these. See the STScI Phase II documentation for details.

V-Magnitude

A magnitude or flux should be specified for every target. Supply the V-magnitude for the entire target (galaxy, planet, etc.), if known. In the case of observations with ACS/SBC, STIS/MAMA, or COS, specify the V-magnitude of the brightest object in the field of view (this may not be the primary target). For variable targets, give the brightest V-magnitude expected during the observations. The configurations mentioned above have detectors with bright-object safety limits, and observations that violate those limits are infeasible. See the Bright-Object Constraints section of the HST Primer, or the respective Instrument Handbook for details. With the exception of the safety checks, this information is used only for scientific review, not for exposure-time calculations. It is not required to specify the V-magnitude or flux for generic targets.

Other Fluxes

For each target you should specify either a V-magnitude or another magnitude or flux. Supply the apparent total magnitude or flux in the relevant passband for the entire target (galaxy, planet, etc.), if known. For variable targets, give the brightest magnitude expected during the observations. This information is used only for scientific review, not for exposure-time calculations. The format is free text.

Observation Summary (OS)

(This item appears in the APT form only for GO Proposals)

The OS lists the main characteristics of the observations that you propose to obtain. In general you must include in the OS all the configurations, modes, and spectral elements that you propose to use, and (except for SNAPs) all the targets that you propose to observe. Configurations or targets that are not specified in the Phase I proposal, but are included in Phase II, may delay the program implementation, and may be disallowed. Note the following:

• For Long-Term Proposals, the OS should include information for all the proposed observations, not just those requested in Cycle 28.
• Parallel observations must be included in the OS, and marked as such using the relevant special requirement flags (see the table below).
• Target acquisition observations need not be included in the OS, unless they are themselves used for scientific analysis.
• Normal calibration observations that are often or routinely taken (e.g, fringe flats) need not be included in the OS. However, the OS should include any special calibration exposures of internal sources or external targets. Special internal calibrations should be listed separately from external calibration exposures. When these special calibrations require additional orbits, that should be specified and the orbits included in the total allocation. The need for these calibrations should be justified in the "Description of the Observations" section of the proposal.

The OS consists of individual ‘observation blocks’, each containing several separate pieces of information.

All exposures of a given target made with a particular instrument may be summarized in a single observation block; observations of the same target with a second instrument (e.g. coordinated parallels) must be specified in a separate observation block.

Observation blocks are numbered sequentially in the APT Phase I proposal form. Each observation block should include the items that are listed and discussed below in separate sub-sections.

Target

Select the target from the pull-down menu. The menu will contain all the targets you have entered on the “Targets” page.

Instrument

Select an instrument from the pull-down menu. The menu will contain all the available instruments. Only one instrument can be selected in each observation block.


Instrument Setup(s)

Under “Instrument Setups” click on “Add.” This will bring up a pop-up menu which will allow you to select the parameters for the observation (e.g., config, science mode, spectral elements).


Config

Enter the Scientific Instrument configuration. A pull-down menu shows the available and allowed options for the instrument you have selected.


Science Mode

Enter the science mode. A pull-down menu shows the available and allowed options (which depend on the choice of Configuration).


Coronagraphy

If you are proposing coronagraphic observations with STIS, then set this keyword to ‘yes’. Coronagraphic observations with the ACS/SBC are not permitted (see Section 3.3.2 of the ACS Instrument Handbook).


Polarizer

If you are proposing polarimetric observations with ACS, then set this keyword to ‘yes’. There is no polarimetry keyword in the proposal PDF file, but this sets the appropriate flag in the Phase I submission.


Spectral Element

Enter the desired spectral elements (i.e., filters and gratings) using the ‘Spectral Element’ pull-down menus which show the available and allowed options (which depend on the choice of Configuration and Science Mode). Each Instrument Setup denotes a set of exposures with the same spectral elements. For example if you are taking four exposures with the B filter and two with the V filter, one instrument setup would give the B filter as the Spectral Element, and a separate instrument setup would give the V filter as the Spectral Element.


Central Wavelength

If a COS or STIS grating is used, then first select the grating and subsequently give the central wavelengths in Angstroms for the exposures.


Orbits

Enter the number of orbits requested (i.e., the sum of the orbits required for all the instrument setups in the observation block). Consult Orbit Calculation Overview for instructions on how to calculate the appropriate number of orbits for your observations.


Number of Iterations

If you require multiple sets of observations, enter the number of iterations (for example, if you will reobserve at a different time or if you have a large mosaic). This will automatically update the total number of orbits requested for the target.


Special Requirement Checkboxes

Mark one or more of the special requirement checkboxes, if applicable. The meanings of the checkboxes are indicated in the table below. For Snapshot observations, only the ‘duplication’ and ‘coordinated parallel’ checkboxes are allowed.


Table:  Special Requirement Flags for the Observation Summary

Flag

Use this flag for

Coordinated Parallel

All of the exposures specified in this observation block are to be done in Coordinated Parallel mode.

Pure Parallel

All of the exposures specified in this observation block are to be done in Pure Parallel mode.

CVZ

Continuous Viewing Zone observations.

Duplication

Observations which duplicate or might be perceived to duplicate previous or upcoming exposures.

Target of Opportunity - Disruptive

Target-of-Opportunity observations with turn-around time shorter than 3 weeks.

Target of Opportunity - Non-disruptive

Target-of-Opportunity observations with turn-around time longer than 3 weeks.



Scheduling Requirements

For all proposals, we request that you provide additional scheduling information for your observations; this request does not apply to observations of solar system or generic targets. The additional information will help STScI understand and assess the scheduling implications of your program. Be sure to read the ‘Description of the Observations’ section, as that is the primary place for describing your observing strategy. Note that these requirements do not appear in the PDF file, although they are used when running the Visit Planner.

 

For each Observation Block, please provide the following when appropriate:

 

NO SCHEDULING CONSTRAINTS

Setting this requirement means there are no scheduling constraints on the Observation Block.

 

SHADOW

Set this requirement when all exposures defined in the Observation Block are affected adversely by geocoronal Lyman-alpha background emission, and therefore need to be obtained when HST is in Earth shadow. This requirement complicates scheduling and reduces HST observing efficiency, and must therefore have adequate scientific justification in the Phase I proposal. SHADOW is generally incompatible with CVZ. This requirement should not be used if low continuum background is required: in that case use LOW SKY instead. 

 

LOW SKY

Set this requirement when all exposures defined in the Observation Block are affected adversely by scattered light (e.g zodiacal light and earthshine), and therefore need to be obtained with minimal sky background. The continuum background for HST observations is a function of when and how a given target is observed. Observations can be scheduled when the sky background is within 30% of its yearly minimum for the given target, which is done by restricting the observations to times that minimize both zodiacal light and earthshine scattered by the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA). To minimize the zodiacal light, the scheduling algorithm places seasonal restrictions on the observations; to reduce the earthshine, the amount of time data is taken within an orbit is reduced by approximately 15%. The former complicates scheduling, while the latter reduces the observing efficiency of HST. Therefore, using the LOW SKY restriction must have adequate scientific justification included in the Phase I proposal. With this restriction, the zodiacal background light for low-ecliptic latitude targets can be reduced by as much as a factor of 4. Avoiding the earthshine at the standard earth-limb avoidance angle (see the Pointing Constraints section of the HST Primer) can make a similar difference. LOW SKY is generally incompatible with CVZ. 

 

SAME ORIENT

Setting this requirement means that all exposures defined in the Observation Block MUST be observed at the exact same ORIENT. This requirement is only meaningful if the observations are to occur in multiple visits (e.g. Number of Iterations is greater than 1, or if the Total Orbits is greater than 5).

 

ORIENT RANGE

Enter the ORIENT range that all the exposures defined in the Observation Block must be observed within. If multiple ORIENT ranges are acceptable, then enter all values.

 

BETWEEN

Enter the range of dates that all exposures defined in the Observation Block must be observed within. If multiple BETWEENs are acceptable, then enter all values.

 

AFTER OBSERVATION BY

Enter any timing requirements between Observation Blocks. Timing requirements between observations WITHIN an Observation Block do not need to be specified. This is intended to capture repeated visits with spacings of multiple days or greater, not timing requirements of less than 1-2 days.

 

PERIOD <time> and ZEROPHASE <date> and PHASE <number1> TO <number2>

Supplies the period and zero-phase for observations to be made at a specific phase of periodically variable target. <time> is the period in days, hours, minutes, or seconds, and <date> is the date of the zero-phase with respect to the Sun (i.e., HJD, not calendar date), <number1> is the start of the phase ranges, and <number2> should be between 0.0 and 1.0.

For Large and Treasury Programs, we will contact the proposer within 1-2 weeks of the submission deadline if we need to verify our understanding of the appropriate scheduling constraints. As noted previously, if a Co-I is to serve as the contact for this verification process, the Contact Co-I keyword box should be set.

Verifying Schedule Constraints

If you have specified any scheduling constraints, you are encouraged to use the APT Visit planner to verify that your observations are indeed schedulable. While it cannot check that the total number of orbits you have requested are available, the Visit Planner will at least confirm whether or not there are days during the cycle when your target(s) can be observed with your imposed scheduling constraints. In general, the more days that are available, the more feasible your program. This is particularly important for Large Programs. Detailed instructions for performing this verification can be found in the HST Help menu.

If you find that any observation is not schedulable, and it is not scientifically possible to adjust any special scheduling constraints (e.g. a BETWEEN), then you can increase the scheduling opportunities by selecting the Increase Scheduling Flexibility flag in APT. Note that using this option may require you to ask for a larger orbit allocation, since setting the flag will reduce the orbital visibility for the observation; this reduced orbital visibility is automatically used for Large Programs. Detailed instructions for performing this verification can be found in the HST Help menu.



Next: HST Cycle 28 Preparation of the PDF Attachment