Types of Proposals

The following are the types of proposals that are supported by the LMT. Please note that not all proposal types are accepted each observing semester – see the current Call for Proposals to check which proposal types are currently being considered.

Standard Projects

The LMT is a powerful telescope, and a lot can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Moreover, the LMT seeks to provide opportunities to use the telescope to a wide community of users within the time that is available for scientific observations. Past experience shows that many projects seeking time at the level of 20 hours of telescope time are proposed for LMT time allocation. Time requests at this level are considered to be Standard Observing Projects. Standard projects would be expected to be completed in a single observing season at the LMT.

Large Projects

Some projects require time allocations of many 10’s or hundreds of hours to be accomplished, and they may require more than one observing season to complete the observational program. It is understood that large projects can have significant scientific impact, and so the LMT user community is encouraged to consider such programs. At the same time, it is important to assure that the time investment in a large project pays off. Accordingly, Large Projects, requiring more than 35 hours of telescope time, will be subject to additional review requirements when they are proposed and while they are carried out as follows:

  • Large Project proposals should present a management plan which includes: (1) a proposal of how the assigned time will be divided among the LMT user community allocations; (2) a list of “anticipated results,” derived data products, and publications that can be expected as the project is carried out; and (3) information about resources that will be devoted to data reduction and analysis of the LMT data. The management plan will be submitted separately from the scientific and technical justifications required by the LMT proposal process.
  • Large Projects will be subject to regular progress reviews: (1) an initial review, when 20% of the time has been allocated to the project, in order to verify that sensitivity goals are being achieved; and (2) an annual review of the project’s progress towards the list of anticipated results. Programs that do not make good progress are not guaranteed of receiving additional telescope time in subsequent years.

Special Scheduling Proposals

Some astronomical observations involve objects whose behavior cannot be predicted. In addition, as science evolves, special new opportunities for LMT observations may become apparent. Thus, the process for allocating observing time on the LMT must be able to consider proposals which may arise from these special circumstances.

Most observatories have made provisions for dealing with time variable phenomena or special opportunities, but the nomenclature used to describe these cases is not always consistent from one observatory to the next. LMT has chosen to follow the definitions and processes described by ALMA to outline the following policy:

Target of Opportunity (ToO) Proposals

These are proposals submitted to the regular LMT proposal review process where the precise time and/or target of the observation cannot be specified at the time of the proposal. In these cases, even though the specific target and/or observation time cannot be identified in the observing proposal, the scientific basis for the observations can be presented and a specific set of observations can be reviewed through the regular proposal review process so that the program’s scientific priority may be established. The ToO proposal would be expected to provide the criteria that would trigger the ToO observation in the “Special Scheduling Considerations” portion of the Technical Justification.

Director’s Discretionary Time (DDT) Proposals

The LMT does not have a fraction of telescope observing time that can be assigned at the sole discretion of the LMT Director. However, following ALMA, LMT will use this designation to handle all situations where observations are requested outside of the normal review process. A DDT proposal must belong to one of the following categories:

  • Proposals that require observation of a time variable event that could not have been anticipated and therefore would not have been submitted as a normal ToO proposal.
  • Proposals that urgently require LMT observations and could lead to a breakthrough scientific discovery.

VLBI Opportunities

The location and large collecting area of the LMT makes it an excellent candidate to participate in VLBI observations at millimeter wavelengths. The LMT exists to support astronomers from its user communities, and so in order for LMT to participate in a VLBI experiment, it is necessary to establish both (1) the connection between the LMT’s scientific users and the specific VLBI experiment; and (2) the scientific priority of the VLBI experiment compared to other proposed LMT observations. This is done by submitting observing proposals through the normal LMT proposal process.

VLBI proposals are special in nature for two reasons. First, the VLBI observation is not a routine LMT observing mode. Therefore, the proposal technical justification must describe how this special observation will be supported by observers who are familiar with the VLBI equipment that is necessary to record the data. The VLBI plan for managing recording media at LMT should also be presented. Second, the exact time of the VLBI experiment requires synchronization with the rest of the network. Information related to this, such as a possible range of dates for the network’s observations, should be provided in the technical justification of the proposal.

LMT VLBI proposals that are accepted by the review panel will then be scheduled presuming that simultaneous proposals to other network sites are also approved.