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Green Bank Observatory Call for Proposals: 2022A Semester

The Green Bank Observatory (GBO) invites scientists to participate in the 2022A Semester Call for Proposals for the Green Bank Telescope (GBT).  The entire proposal call can be found here. The submission deadline for Semester 2022A proposals is Monday, 2 August 2021, at 17:00 EDT (21:00 UTC).

All proposals should state why the GBT is necessary for the requested observations in both the abstract and science justification.

NEW Virtual Proposal Planning Workshop, Thursday, July 22. Learn more & register.

We strongly encourage proposers to carefully read through the “News and Opportunities” section in the full proposal call.  

Please note that the GBT is scheduled in 15 minute (0.25 hour) increments and that all proposals should request time appropriately.   Time requests will be rounded down to the nearest 0.25 hour increment. 

Proposal preparation and submission remain via the NRAO Proposal Submission Tool (PST) available at NRAO Interactive Services. Note that use of the PST requires registration.  Proposers who need assistance with proposal preparation or have questions regarding the Call or GBT capabilities should contact Observatory staff via the Helpdesk.

The GBO encourages the submission of high risk, high reward proposals requiring GBT observing time.

Filler time proposals which can take advantage of gaps in the GBT schedule are also encouraged.

Triggered proposals can be submitted for studies of transient objects such as fast radio bursts, near Earth asteroids, comets, and other transients.                   

Receiver Availability

The GBO plans on testing and commissioning new prime focus receivers during the 22A semester.  These receivers will enhance the low-frequency capabilities of the GBT.  However, the testing and commissioning of these new receivers will create significant scheduling pressure on the existing prime focus receivers.  We will endeavor to accommodate proposals for prime focus receivers but encourage observers to make use of Gregorian receivers whenever scientifically feasible and to consider flexible observing strategies when requesting a prime focus receiver.  This is especially true for proposals that request regular monitoring observations, phase connection observations, as well as any fixed date or temporally constrained observations.

A new X-band receiver is expected to become available in the 22A semester.  The performance of the new X-band receiver is expected to be the same or better than  the old X-band receiver.

We anticipate that the L-band, S-band, X-band, Mustang2, ARGUS and KFPA receivers to be available most of the semester.  We anticipate the following receivers to be available for short campaigns on an irregular basis:  PF/342 MHz, C-band, Ku-band, Ka-band, Q-band and W-band.  Other PF feeds would be made available for high ranking proposals.  PF/800 MHz will be available on a regular basis in the 22A semester.  However, it is anticipated that PF/800 MHz will only be available on an irregular basis in the 22B semester.

Anyone requesting a receiver or instrument not listed as being available in the proposal call must have permission from the site director before the proposal is submitted.

Proposals requesting the Ultra Wideband Feed will not be considered for the 22A proposal deadline.

Large Proposals

The GBT only accepts large proposals once per year at the February proposal deadlines.  We no longer accept GBT large proposals at the August proposal deadlines.  This new policy ensures equality for the reviews of all large proposals that can be scheduled across a full year.

Recall that all large proposals are restricted to using no more than 50% of the open skies time available under any weather category (poor, good, excellent) at any LST during any semester.

New Regular, and Large proposal size definitions for the GBO:

  • 0-8 GHz (Any weather)
    • Regular:  < 400 hours and lasting  ≤ 1 year
    • Large: ≥ 400 hours or lasting >1 year
  • 8-18 and 27.5-50 GHz (Good weather)
    • Regular:  < 200 hours and lasting ≤ 1 year
    • Large: ≥ 200 hours or lasting >1 year
  • 18-27.5 and > 50 GHz (Excellent weather)
    • Regular:  < 100 hours and lasting ≤ 1 year
    • Large:  ≥ 100 hours or lasting >1 year
  • Fixed and Monitoring proposals
    • Regular:  < 200 hours and lasting ≤ 1 year
    • Large:  ≥ 200 hours or lasting >1 year

GBT Capabilities

The GBO encourages proposals that take advantage of the GBT’s unique capabilities across 0.29 to 116.2 GHz frequency range.  (Coverage is not available for 2.65-4.0 GHz, 15.8-18.0 GHz, and 50.5-67.0 GHz)

Key science areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Low column density HI (NHI ≈1017 cm-2 galactic and extragalactic)
  • astrochemistry
  • cosmology
  • fast radio bursts
  • galaxy and cluster evolution
  • pulsars (searches and timing)
  • radio recombination lines
  • solar system science

High Frequency Observations

There are approximately 1000 hours of excellent weather (18-27.5 and > 50 GHz) available each semester for both open skies and sponsored time.    Prior commitments typically account for slightly more than half of this time which leaves only 450 hours available to be scheduled each semester. 

Joint Proposals

Proposals requesting the GBT as part of High Sensitivity Array (HSA), and Global 3mm VLBI Array (GMVA) should be submitted through the Very Long Baseline Array’s call (available here).

We wish to remind proposers of continuing opportunities for joint observations with SOFIA, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and XMM-Newton.

News and Opportunities

Proposal Deadline

The 2 August 2021 deadline (21:00 UTC) is for the 2022A Semester observing period on the GBT: 1 February 2022 – 31 July 2022.

Details of all GBT observing modes are inThe Proposer’s Guide for the Green Bank Telescope. Proposers should also consult the more general document The Performance of the GBT: A Guide for Planning Observations. Proposers should make sure that they are familiar with the latest versions of these documents before writing their proposal.

Large Proposals:

Beginning with the 2020B semester the GBT will only accept large proposals once per year at the February proposal deadlines.  We will no longer accept GBT large proposals at the August proposal deadlines.  This new policy ensures equality for the reviews of all large proposals that can be scheduled across a full year.

Instrumentation:

The GBT receivers, backends, and observing modes that are available for Semester 2022A proposals are listed in Tables 1 and 2 below.

ReceiverFrequency Range
Prime Focus 1  290-395 MHz, 385-520 MHz, 510-690 MHz and 680-920 MHz
Prime Focus 2910-1230 MHz
L-band1.15-1.73 GHz
S-band1.73-2.60 GHz
C-band (linear polarization only – see below)3.8-7.8 GHz
X-band7.8-11.6 GHz
Ku-band12.0-15.4 GHz
K-band Focal Plane Array (7 pixels)18.0-27.5 GHz
Ka-band26.0-39.5 GHz
Q-band39.2-50.5 GHz
W-band67-93.3 GHz
ARGUS75-116 GHz
MUSTANG2 (shared-risk – see below)90 GHz, Shared Risk

Table 1

BackendObserving Modes
Versatile Green Bank Astronomical Spectrometer (VEGAS)Continuum (see below), spectral line, pulsar
Digital Continuum Receiver (DCR)Continuum
Caltech Continuum Backend (CCB)Continuum (Ka receiver only)
Mark6 Very Long Baseline Array Disk RecorderVery Long Baseline Interferometry
JPL Radar backendPrivate PI Instrument – Open for Public Use
Breakthrough ListenPrivate PI Instrument, Shared Risk

Table 2

Instrument Availability:  The availability of GBT Gregorian receivers and prime focus feeds will be based on demand from the highly ranked (Group A) proposals.  Some receivers and feeds may be available only for a few short, two or three week periods during the semester.

Availability of Receivers:  The GBO plans on testing and commissioning new prime focus receivers during the 22A semester.  These receivers will enhance the low-frequency capabilities of the GBT.  However, the testing and commissioning of these new receivers will create significant scheduling pressure on the existing prime focus receivers.  We will endeavor to accommodate proposals for prime focus receivers but encourage observers to make use of Gregorian receivers whenever scientifically feasible and to consider flexible observing strategies when requesting a prime focus receiver.  This is especially true for proposals that request regular monitoring observations, phase connection observations, as well as any fixed date or temporally constrained observations.

A new X-band receiver is expected to be in use by the 22A semester.  The performance of the new X-band receiver is expected to be the same or better than  the old X-band receiver.

We anticipate that the L-band, S-band, X-band, Mustang2, ARGUS and KFPA receivers to be available most of the semester.  We anticipate the following receivers to be available for short campaigns on an irregular basis:  PF/342 MHz, C-band, Ku-band, Ka-band, Q-band and W-band.  Other PF feeds would be made available for high ranking proposals.  PF/800 MHz will be available on a regular basis in the 22A semester.  However, it is anticipated that PF/800 MHz will only be available on an irregular basis in the 22B semester.

Anyone requesting a receiver or instrument not listed as being available in the proposal call must have permission from the site director before the proposal is submitted.

Proposals requesting the Ultra Wideband Feed will not be considered for the 22A proposal deadline.

Permission required for instruments not listed as being available:  Anyone requesting a receiver or instrument not listed as being available in the proposal call must have permission from the site director before the proposal is submitted.

C-band:  Proposals wishing to use the GBT C-band receiver should only use linear polarization outputs.  The circular polarization of the receiver is currently not preforming correctly and we will not accept any proposals to use the circular polarization output of this receiver.

C-band VLBI on the GBT: TheGBO will only accept proposals using the GBT C-band receiver for VLBI Stokes I continuum observations (the observations will need to be done using full Stokes just to calibrate Stoke I).  Please see the HSA section of the Long Baseline Observatory call (available here) for proposals for more details.

VEGAS:

Continuum: All modes of VEGAS may now be used for continuum observations.  The Proposal Submission Tool has not been updated to reflect this situation.  Proposers should use the spectral line modes of VEGAS to choose the desired bandwidth and then note in the technical justification that the observations will be for continuum measurements.

Pulsar: VEGAS pulsar modes are available for use.

ARGUS: Observers interested in using the ARGUS instrument should see http://www.gb.nrao.edu/argus/ for further information. 

VLBI: Proposers should clearly justify the need for the GBT in the text of the proposal.  All Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) proposals requesting the GBT should include any needed setup and overhead time in the time request of their proposals.  C-band VLBI observers should see the C-band VLBI note above.

MUSTANG2: The GBO will accept proposals for shared risk observations using the MUSTANG2 instrument at the proposal deadline.  The GBO cannot guarantee that MUSTANG2 will be cold at the start of scheduled observing due to low observing elevations or rotations of the turret from prior observations.  Cool down time for MUSTANG2 observations should be included in the overhead for MUSTANG2 observations.  All MUSTANG2 proposals must have permission from the instrument development team. 

Breakthrough Listen backend: The Breakthrough Listen project is making its backend available for shared-risk observations during the 2022A semester.  The instrument consists of a cluster of 64 Titan X and 1080 GPU-based servers capturing 8-bit baseband voltages over up to 12 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth.  Data rates are typically tens of TB/hr but a pipeline is available to generate spectra with adjustable frequency (> 3 Hz) and time (> 350 μs) resolutions, with possible science applications including fast radio transients, pulsar observations, stellar flares, SETI, etc.  Before submitting a proposal, proposers must obtain permission from the Breakthrough Listen team at Berkeley SETI Research Center.  The team will consult on proposal preparation and data analysis.  Any data acquired using the backend will be proprietary to the proposer per the standard GBO policies.

More information including a technical description of the backend and team contact details can be found here.

Observing and Scheduling Constraints:

The GBT is scheduled by the Dynamic Scheduling System (DSS). The DSS system is fully described in the GBT Proposer’s Guide and the GBT Observer’s Guide.

Session lengths:  Proposers should be aware that long scheduling blocks (more than ~6 hours) become increasingly difficult to schedule as a result of the transition to reduced open skies time by the NSF.  Proposers must clearly state in the technical justification section how their project could be scheduled in smaller observing blocks that would more easily fit within the GBT scheduling constraints.   This is especially critical for proposals that require fixed or coordinated observing dates, e.g. VLBI observations, pulsar monitoring, radar, etc.

Mapping: If you are considering mapping with the GBT such that there are major turns or moves (end of rows in raster map, petals in daisy maps, changes in position for pointed maps, etc.) that occur with a cadence faster than every 30 seconds, you will need to consult with a GBT support scientist to ensure that the GBT can safely withstand the stresses induced by the mapping motions.

Fixed, Windowed and Temporally Constrained Observations:  Due to varied pressures on the GBT’s scheduling resulting from the transition to reduced open skies by the NSF, fixed time observations (e.g. VLBI, pulsar transit observations, etc.), windowed observations (e.g. monitoring observations) and temporally constrained observations (pulsar phase connection, orbit phase constraints, etc.) will likely have to be ranked at least in or near the top 10-15% of all AUI telescope proposals in order to be accepted.

Observing Team Members:  We would like to remind all project teams of the Green Bank Observatory policy that all observers must be listed as a member of the project team in the GBT Dynamic Scheduling System. 

Also, we would like to remind all observers that they should not log into any GBO computing system using another person’s account.  Co-Is and students are required to have their own GBO login and account if they are to participate in observing and data reduction. 

Scheduling Increments:  Please note that the GBT is scheduled in 15 minute (0.25 hour) increments and that all proposals should request time appropriately.   Time requests will be rounded down to the nearest 0.25 hour increment. 

GBT Proposal Preparation:

Proposers should consult the The Performance of the GBT: A Guide for Planning Observationsand the GBT Observer’s Guide. All proposers, including pulsar proposers, should use the GBT Sensitivity Calculator. Please see the Calculator’s User’s Guidefor instructions. The Sensitivity Calculator results can be cut and pasted into the Technical Justification section of the proposal. This will streamline the creation of your Technical Justification and will lessen the chances for error.  If you are planning on making maps with the GBT, you should use the GBT Mapping Calculator tool.

TheGBT observing policies describe the telescope’s remote observing restrictions.

Proposers requesting GBT participation in High Sensitivity Array (HSA), Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), or Global Millimeter Very Long Baseline Interferometry (GMVA) observations should consult the VLBA, HSA, and GMVA Proposal Call.

RFI:

RFI Monitoring Scans:  The most recent RFI monitoring scans for the GBT can be found here.  These scans provide information on the frequencies that may encounter RFI.

Schools and Workshops

Observer Training:

The Green Bank Telescope (GBT) Remote Observer Training Workshop will provide the essential skills and knowledge needed to use the GBT and maximize its scientific output. It is intended for experienced astronomers who need to learn the specifics of observing with the GBT. After completing the workshop, an attendee will be certified to use the GBT as a remote observer. The workshop will focus on hands-on training in the observing techniques most relevant to participants (e.g. high frequency map, continuum, pulsar, etc.).

These workshops will be held several times a year and will complement traditional on-site training.  The next workshops will be held in September 2021 and either January or February of 2022.

More information can be found here.

Single Dish Training Workshop:

 The Single Dish Training School will provide graduate students, post-docs, and experts in other fields of astronomy with both knowledge and practical experience of the techniques and applications of single-dish radio astronomy using the GBT as the primary example. The school will be based around an intensive series of lectures from experts, as well as hands-on radio-astronomy projects and tutorials. Topics to be covered include radio telescope fundamentals, key single-dish science areas, observing and calibration techniques, the impact of weather, the GBT observing procedures and software, and data reduction.

The school will be held once per year. An intensive GBT remote observer training workshop will be held immediately following the school for those who wish to obtain remote observing certification.  The next school is tentatively set to occur September 13-21, 2021 and will be hosted by Green Bank Observatory.

More information can be found here.

Joint Observatory Observation Opportunities:

Joint Observations with SOFIA

By agreement with the Green Bank Observatory, SOFIA may award up to 5% of GBT open skies observing time. Similarly the GBT Time Allocation Committee may award up to 3% of U.S. Guest Observer Time on SOFIA. See the Joint Observations with SOFIA page for details.

Joint Observations with XMM-Newton

By agreement with the Green Bank Observatory, detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding, the XMM-Newton Project may award up to 3% of GBT open skies observing time. Similarly the GBT Time Allocation Committee may award up to 150 ks of XMM-Newton time per year. See the Joint Observations with XMM-Newton page for details.

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 Green Bank Observatory will continue with this program and will allocate up to 3% of the open skies time to highly ranked proposals that request time on both HST and the GBT.  Proposers to the GBO will have the opportunity to request time on Chandra, to be awarded on the recommendation of the GBO Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC) and approved by the GBO Director. Up to 120 ksec will be made available to GBO/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 continued honoring by GBO) and the Space Telescope Science Institute, STScI will be able to award up to 3% of the available open skies time to highly ranked proposals that request time on both HST and the GBT.  In return, STScI has offered 30 orbits of HST time for allocation by the GBO/NRAO TAC to proposals submitted for the GBO deadlines for Semester 2021B and Semester 2022A.   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 was established, detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding. The GBO will continue to honor this agreement.  By this agreement, the Swift Program permits GBO/NRAO to award up to 300 kiloseconds of Swift observing time per year.   Similarly, GBO/NRAO permits the Swift Guest Investigator (GI) Program to award GBO 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 the GBT 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 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 as before 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.

Other Proposal Opportunities

The GBO 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.  The high risk/high reward should be designated in the abstract of the proposal and in the science justification.

    Filler Programs: Some programs that are not time critical or require highly subscribed LST ranges can request designation as a “filler program.” Such programs may be able to take advantage of gaps in the GBT schedule, but there no guarantee that any GBT time will be allocated. Proposals requesting a designation as filler should do so in the proposal abstract and in the science justification.  All filler programs will be given a ranking of C.

  Triggered Proposals: Observations for unknown sources that would be triggered by a celestial event (e.g. near Earth asteroid, comet, fast radio burst, etc.) can be submitted as a triggered proposal.  Any accepted triggered proposal will have proprietary rights to observations over any DDT proposal. Further information about each of these programs can be found here.