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Proposal Submission Guide

The current Call for Proposals is the first document you should read when planning to submit a Spitzer proposal. In order to apply for Spitzer time, proposers are required to submit three items in their proposal: cover sheet information, scientific and technical justification (using one of the proposal templates, in pdf ONLY) and a set of Astronomical Observation Requests (AORs), which provide the targets and mode of operation for each of the observations being requested. All three items must be submitted through Spot. Spot is a JAVA-based client-server software package that can be downloaded from the Proposal Kit area of this website. With Spot, proposers can easily construct the AORs that fully specify their proposed observations. All proposers must utilize the IRAC Post-Cryo Astronomical Observation Template (AOT) in Spot to create their AORs.

Please see the Funding page for the most current information on Archival and Theoretical Research proposals.

Step-by-step Proposal Submission Process

Spitzer Proposal Submission is a one-phase process (for exceptions, see Call for Proposals). Proposers for Spitzer observing time must include the details of their proposed observations in the form of AORs.

Planning Stage:

  1. Think of some spiffy science to be done using Spitzer.
  2. Read all of the relevant documentation (and there is quite a bit of it). The 5 most essential documents are Call for Proposals, Spitzer Observer's Manual (SOM), Spot User's Guide, the Spitzer Observing Rules, and the Reserved Observations Catalog, which should be searched via Spot or Leopard. Many other helpful documents are also available for download in the Proposal Kit area of this SSC web site.
  3. Download and install Spot. Do this early! Get to know your Spot and the Spitzer science instruments well before the deadline of the Call.
  4. Check the Reserved Observations Catalog using Leopard. Avoid duplicating approved observations. Duplications are generally not allowed. See the Observing Rules for more details on duplication of approved observations.
  5. Check that your favorite target(s) are not too bright or too faint for Spitzer. Remember that the sky background can be significant at some infrared wavelengths. Sensitivity charts are available in the Spitzer Observer's Manual and in the Proposal Kit area (see the Background Estimates in Sensitivity Plots). Observers can use Spot and/or IRSky to estimate the infrared sky background in regions of interest.
  6. Use Spot to fill out AOTs to create AORs. (There are lots of examples of how to do this on this site; see particularly the Observation Planning Cookbook) Check the visibility of your observations, especially if you need to use an observational constraint (hints and tips about constraints). Use Spot to visualize your AORs. Is it what you expected?
  7. Start writing the scientific and technical justification. This must be in PDF format (How to Make a PDF) when submitted as part of the proposal. See the Call for Proposals for details on what to include in the justification. All of this information must be in a PDF file that is less than 10 MB total - if you trip this limit, make all figures black-and-white, with lower resolution than 300 dpi.
  8. Early on, open the Proposal Tool in Spot. Fill in some information and save it to disk. This is the coversheet part of the proposal. Get comfortable editing the information and changing it if needed.

Submit your observing proposal!

Tip: Because you can update your proposal during the Call (see below), and because this process of getting your basic information into the database can take several minutes during periods of extremely heavy load, it will make things easier if you submit a preliminary proposal and get into the database early on.

  1. Think of a nifty shorthand proposal user name (not your personal username) for your proposal. It must be unique within the Spitzer mission. Check the Reserved Observations Catalog for proposal user names other observers have used. Also think of a password. You will need to use this proposal user name and password to update your submitted proposal (possible throughout the Call) and to modify your approved proposal if necessary.
  2. Start up Spot.
  3. Load the AORs to be submitted into Spot. Be sure there are not any junk or test AORs, just the good ones you want to be executed with Spitzer if your proposal is approved.
  4. Open the Proposal Tool from the Tools menu in Spot.
  5. Load your coversheet file into the Proposal Tool (File -> Open Proposal), or input the information that is requested. Double-check that the information looks correct, especially the Hours Requested and the justification file that is to be submitted.
  6. Click on the Submit menu in the Proposal Tool and select Submit proposal to SSC.
  7. Save your coversheet file, as requested by Spot. Name it something you will remember like username_submitted_07jul08.cs. Spot will save the file with your chosen proposal user name (that you're about to enter in the next step) included within it. You will need to use this particular saved coversheet file to submit any modifications to your proposal.
  8. Enter the proposal user name and password and your email address (used by SSC in case a problem is detected during submission).
  9. Spot will inform you when it has successfully submitted the proposal to the SSC. You will also receive a confirmation via email.
  10. OPTIONAL: if you wish a copy of the coversheet for your own records, from the "File" menu in the proposal tool, select "print cover sheet", "print cover sheet to file", OR "prepend cover onto sci just file." NOTE THAT you do NOT have to do this before submitting your proposal. We create coversheets here at the SSC.

Updating your Submitted Proposal
At any time during the Call for Proposals you may modify any aspect of your submitted proposal, except proposal user name and password. You can submit a revised justification, an updated set of AORs, or corrected coversheet information.

To update a proposal:

  1. Start up Spot.
  2. Load in new set of AORs if updating AORs.
  3. Open the Proposal Tool under the Tools menu in Spot.
  4. Read in the coversheet file saved from earlier submission (i.e. username_submitted_07jul08.cs) by clicking on File -> Open Proposal.
  5. Make any desired changes to the coversheet information. Be sure the Hours Requested entered is accurate and that the Tool is pointing to the proper justification file (if submitting an updated file).
  6. Click on the Submit menu and then Update proposal at SSC.
  7. Enter your password and email address when requested.
  8. If you made any changes to the coversheet information, Spot will again require you to save your coversheet file. Call it something useful like username_submitted_10oct08.cs.
  9. Spot will inform you when it has successfully transferred your updated proposal to the SSC. You will also receive an email confirmation.
  10. You may submit as many updates as needed prior to the deadline of the Call for Proposals. Submissions after the deadline will be automatically rejected by the software and an error message will be returned by Spot.
  11. OPTIONAL: if you wish a copy of the coversheet for your own records, from the "File" menu in the proposal tool, select "print cover sheet", "print cover sheet to file", OR "prepend cover onto sci just file." NOTE THAT you do NOT have to do this before submitting your proposal. We create coversheets here at the SSC.