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ALMA Cycle 1 Call for Proposals

The Call for Proposals for ALMA Early Science Cycle 1 has been announced on May 31st, 2012:

The ALMA Director, on behalf of the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) and the three partner organizations in East Asia, Europe and North America, is pleased to announce the release of the Early Science Cycle 1 Call for Proposals (CfP). Members of the astronomical community are invited to propose for scientific observations to be scheduled during the period from January to October 2013. While the highest priority of the ALMA project continues to be the completion of the full 66-antenna array, Cycle 1 observations provide a significant opportunity for science from this unique world-class facility.

Information on the proposal preparation can be found here.


The ALMA Early Science Cycle 1 capabilities will include:

  • Thirty-two 12-m antennas in the 12-m Array
  • 12-m Array configurations with maximum baselines ranging from ~160 m to ~1 km
  • Nine 7-m antennas, and two 12-m antennas for total power (single dish) observations, in the Atacama Compact Array (ACA), for use in combination with 12-m Array observations for imaging of extended structures
  • Receiver bands 3, 6, 7 & 9 (wavelengths of about 3, 1.3, 0.8 and 0.45 mm)
  • Single field imaging and mosaics of up to 150 pointings
  • Continuum and spectral line observations

It is anticipated that 800 hours of 12-m Array time and up to 800 hours of ACA time will be available for Cycle 1 projects. Complete details are available in the Cycle 1 Proposer's Guide.

Best efforts

Cycle 1 observations will be conducted on a best effort basis, analogous to Cycle 0, in parallel with the ongoing construction, commissioning and verification of the whole ALMA system. The completion of the array of 66 antennas with the full set of scientific capabilities, expected in the second half of 2013, is the highest priority of the Observatory.

Therefore, the following constraints will apply during Cycle 1:

  • Projects will not be carried over from Cycle 1 to later cycles (even if they have not been completed in Cycle 1) and will not establish proprietary rights beyond the standard 12-month period.
  • ALMA staff will conduct quality assurance on ALMA data and provide processed data products through the respective ALMA Regional Centers (ARCs). However, it cannot be guaranteed that the characterization and quality of the data and data reduction will meet the standards expected when ALMA is in full scientific operations. Proposers should expect that significant experience in radio (in particular, millimeter) interferometry, though not required, will be an advantage in working with the data products during ALMA Early Science, particularly for projects that include Band 9 or ACA components.

Proposal submission

The Science Portal at is the principal resource for information for scientific users regarding observing with ALMA. All proposals must be prepared and submitted electronically using the ALMA Observing Tool (OT) software. The OT and a LaTeX template, recommended for preparation of the scientific and technical justification, are available for download at the ALMA Science Portal. Registration in the Science Portal is required for submission of ALMA proposals and is available at all times.

Potential users are strongly encouraged to register in the ALMA User Portal, and use the ALMA Helpdesk to ask any questions about proposals preparation.

Deadline for proposal submission is 15:00 UT on July 12, 2012

Relevant documents

All documents relevant to this CfP are available in the ALMA Science Portal. In particular, proposers are advised to consult the Proposer's Guide, the Technical Handbook, and the Early Science Primer.

How to get help

For specific information not provided in the Science Portal, proposers may submit a ticket to the Helpdesk, or consult the Knowledgebase/FAQ, both linked from the Science Portal. Registration in the ALMA Science Portal is needed for submission of Helpdesk tickets.

Access to ALMA data

Data from completed Science Verification projects, designed to test ALMA systems and confirm their performance, is available in the Science Portal, together with detailed information on observations planned within the Science Verification program.

Data from ALMA observations will be accessible to the community through the Science Portal upon expiration of the standard 12-month proprietary period.

Proposal review process

All proposals submitted in response to this CfP will be subject to peer review by a single international committee. Proposals will be assessed on the basis of their overall scientific merit and the potential contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge, as well as on the extent to which the planned observations demonstrate and exploit the ALMA Cycle 1 capabilities. Projects having the potential of delivering scientifically worthwhile results from relatively short observations will be favorably considered. Science Assessors will be advised to consider Cycle 1 proposals for their own merit, independent of Cycle 0 results.

ALMA users from Taiwan

A PI in Taiwan has access to ALMA through both East Asia (EA) and North America (NA) regions. He/She can register in the ALMA Science Portal. After registration, the user can select freely (and also can change it) to which region the time should be charged to. Also for submitting Helpdesk tickets, both regions can be selected. Accordingly, and since as a rule, ALMA users should have only a single account. If you have two accounts, and they are not merged automatically, please remove one or submit a Helpdesk ticket.

In Cycle 1, a PI in Taiwan can have a 50/50 split option for time charge. To facilitate the explanation, here we assume some one submits a proposal with this split option, and requests a total time of 10 hrs, i.e., 5 hrs in EA and 5 hrs in NA.

If one selects the split option, it depends on where the proposal stands in BOTH queues. For the proposal to be accepted, it needs to fit within BOTH queues; i.e., for the above proposal submitted for Cycle 1, the 5 hrs needs to fit within the NA 270 hr allotment and the other 5 hrs needs to fit within the EA 180 hr allotment. If it only fits within one queue and not the other, it will not be given a "High Priority" status.

Note that this is not necessarily a double jeopardy; it depends on the relative over-subscription between the two regions, and how close to the dividing line the proposal lies. Not obvious for the example of a 10 hrs proposal; more-so for larger proposals where e.g. fitting 20 hrs into two queues is easier than fitting 40hrs into one.

On the other hand, a Taiwanese PI can submit two 5hr proposals SEPARATELY, one with EA as the Executive, another with NA as the Executive. Then each part would be judged against the relevant queue, - they get all the time if they pass both Executives cutoff; they get 5 hrs if they only pass one Executives cutoff.

Note that this workflow would only work for projects that could be split by number of targets, not total integration time, since there is a prohibition against submitting the exact same proposal with different Executive affiliations.

Key dates

31 May 2012: Release of Cycle 1 Call for Proposals and related tools and documents.
31 May 2012 (15:00 UT): Opening of the Archive for proposal submission.
12 July 2012 (15:00 UT): Proposal submission deadline.
Mid Nov 2012: Announcement of the outcome of the Proposal Review Process.
1 January 2013: Start of ALMA Cycle 1 Science Observations.
February 2013: One month engineering period during altiplanic winter.
31 October 2013: End of ALMA Cycle 1 Science Observations.

ALMA Taiwan Mock Review

The Taiwan ARC node will hold a mock review of ALMA proposals for Cycle 1, as for Cycle 0. In Cycle 0, the over-subscription rate was more than 8! In Cycle 1, the over-subscription rate may be even higher. Thus, only very well-prepared proposals will succeed. Prospective users should have their proposals prepared now.

Proposals fail sometimes due to 1) unclear science questions or goals and/or poorly designed experimenting methods/approaches, but also often due to 2) poor writing or last minute compilation. The purpose of this review is to improve the quality of ALMA-T proposals for better success rate by enforcing potential users to prepare the proposals early, thus, to at least eliminate the last minute writing and to further sharpen the science ideas.

This mock review is mainly targeted at new users, postdocs, and students in Taiwan. Nonetheless, all Taiwanese users are welcome to submit their proposals.

The proposal submission deadline is 2012.06.22. Full proposal, including scientific and technical justification, figures and tables, is required to submit to in pdf format. Half-cooked proposals will benefit little from mock reviewing. Technical assessment will be carried out by the Taiwan ARC staff. Scientific review will be conducted through paper by a review panel, including Vivien Chen, Naomi Hirano, Sheng-Yuan Liu, Kazushi Sakamoto, and Wei-Hao Wang.

Technical and scientific review comments will feedback to the PIs through email about 10 days later on 2012.07.02. Face-to-face discussion with the ARC staff or review panel members may be considered and arranged. PIs can incorporate these comments into proposal revision before "true" submission.

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