NOAO Survey Program

NOAO offers the opportunity to conduct major survey projects on telescopes with large numbers of nights allocated by NOAO. Commitments to survey projects extend over a number of semesters, up to a nominal limit of three years (6 semesters). Note that surveys are not merely standard projects that have received long-term status; surveys differ from standard programs in the proposal and allocation process, in the nature of the data and its processing, and in the expected deliverables. Up to 20% of the observing time available through NOAO on the telescopes included in the Survey Program may be allocated to Survey projects. Proposals that make use of facilities in both northern and southern hemispheres are particularly encouraged.

What is a Survey Project?

A Survey Project is a significant observational project which:

  • addresses novel, well-focused scientific goals;
  • enables scientific research requiring large, statistically complete, and homogeneous data;
  • provides a basis for planning more detailed follow-up studies;
  • enables extensive archival research; and
  • represents a significant enhancement over existing surveys.

Successful survey projects are expected to be completed in 3 years or less. Data must be processed with a well-tested and well-documented pipeline, must be archived in a convenient format, and must be made publicly available no longer than one year after the first images are pipeline processed.

How to Propose a Survey Project

Calls for new NOAO Survey proposals are made every 1-2 years, when instrumentation and night availability are sufficient to allow the support of additional programs; the proposal deadline is the same as for regular programs, typically in late September or late March. Letters of intent must be submitted by an earlier deadline, typically in late August or late January. Details on the specific policies of the Survey Program, as well as the survey proposal form and instructions can be found on the NOAO Proposal Information page. Please examine the current policies closely, as they vary from year to year with constraints such as instrument availability and commitments to previous survey projects. Survey proposals are reviewed and ranked by a special Survey TAC.


2014 Survey Program (DECam only) Deadlines:

Letters of Intent are DUE 14 FEBRUARY 2014
Survey Proposals are DUE 31 MARCH 2014


Additional Requirements for Survey Projects

A Workshop will be held in Tucson for all approved programs each year. Survey teams awarded time will be expected to meet with one another and with NOAO or other staff, as appropriate.

Progress Reports must also be submitted to the Survey TAC annually. The Survey TAC will review all progress reports and may recommend changes in the allocations to previously approved programs. Proposers will have the opportunity to appeal any changes recommended by the Survey TAC.

Beginning with the 2011 call, NOAO intends to formalize the agreement with successful survey proposers by negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding that describes the expected data deliverables and a schedule for their delivery.

Completed and Ongoing Surveys

Thirty-eight survey projects have been allocated time since the program started in 1999. NOAO maintains a list of completed and ongoing surveys, which provides for each survey an abstract, a description of available data, and a link to a survey website that holds additional information.

Retrieving Survey Data

Surveys are expected to provide complete and uniform data sets. Following their completion, reduced data and high-level data products can be downloaded from the NOAO Science Archive.

Last updated or reviewed January 28, 2014.