Europlanet 2024 RI NA Call for Observations at the Europlanet Telescope Network
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Europlanet 2024 RI NA Call for Observations at the Europlanet Telescope Network

1. Open Call for Observations

Open call: 1 June 2020 with a rolling deadline
Submission deadline: 31 June 2023 at 00:00 (12pm) CEST

2. Deadline

Application to the NA call should be submitted using the template available on the call page and submitted to  na2@europlanet-society.org. Applications can be submitted at any time from the call opening onwards until 31 June 2023 at 00:00 (12pm) or as long as the budget for this call is not exhausted. The respective Science Advisory Panel (SAP) will decide upon granting on a bi-monthly basis.

3. Background: Europlanet 2024 RI Europlanet Telescope Network Call for Observations

The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) is funded by Horizon 2020 to support the research activities of the European planetary science community and foster international collaborations.

The programme enables European observers (professional scientists and amateur astronomers) to visit and observe at telescope facilities of the so-called Europlanet Telescope Network through its Networking Activity 2 (NA2) – Coordination of Ground-based observations.

The NA2 Observational Programme supports travel, per diem and local accommodation costs of European observers in order to observe at telescope facilities which are part of the Europlanet Telescope Network. The programme also reimburses the incurred service costs of the telescope facilities at which the observations are conducted. Applicants can submit proposals to the NA2 Observational Programme through an open call with a rolling deadline. The anonymised proposal will be sent to the NA2 Science Advisory Panel for peer review. The NA2 Review Board will then decide upon funding based on the recommendation of the Science Advisory Panel and on socio-economic measures.

The applicant can apply for funding at any observatory which has signed or intends to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Europlanet 2024 Consortium and the respective observatory. However, Europlanet does not award observing time. The observing time should ideally be negotiated with the observatory prior to applying for funding by Europlanet.

The programme can support up to two observers for each observation and covering a time-period ranging from one night/hour to several weeks.

4. Eligible Observatories

The NA2 Observational Programme can currently cover observations at 16 different observatories as part of the Europlanet Telescope Network:

  • Pic du Midi Observatory, IMCCE, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, France: 1.06m-telescope
  • Moletai Astronomical Observatory, Vilnius University, Instituute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy, Lithuania : 1.65m-telescope and 35/51cm-telescope
  • Kryoneri Observatory, National Observatory of Athens, Greece: 1.2m-telescope
  • Skalnate Pleso Observatory, Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia: 1.3m-telescope and 61cm-telescope
  • Faulkes Telescope Project, UK (accessing the Las Cumbres Observatory, LCO, global network): Two 2m-robotic telescopes, nine 1m-robotic telescopes, and ten 40cm-robotic telescopes
  • Tartu Observatory, University of Tartu, Tartu Observatory, Estonia: 1.5m telescope, 60cm telescope, 30cm robotic telescope
  • Danish 1.54m telescope at ESO La Silla Observatory (Chile), Copenhagen University, Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark: 1.54m mirror telescope
  • Beacon Observatory, University of Kent, UK: 42cm remote controllable astrograph
  • Observatorie del Teide, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain : 82cm IAC-80 telescope, 45cm telescope
  • Calar Alto Observatory, Junta de Andalucia and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia, Spain : 1.23m telescope
  • Lisnyky Observation Station, Astronomical Observatory of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine: 70cm telescope
  • Chuguev Observatory, Institute of Astronomy of V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine: 70cm telescope
  • Terskol Peak Observatory, International  Center for Astronomical, Medical and Ecological Research of  the National Academy of Sciences  of  Ukraine (IC AMER), Ukraine: 2m telescope, 60cm telescope
  • Konkoly Observatory, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungary: 1m telescope, 80cm telescope
  • Ussuriysk Astrophysical Observatory, Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia: 25cm-telescope, 50cm-telescope
  • Rozhen Observatory, Institute of Astronomy and National Astronomical Observatory, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria: 2m telescope, 60cm telescope, 50/70cm telescope

New observatories will be able to join the Europlanet Telescope Network, provided they are willing to sign the MoU. In this case we can accept applications for observation time also for new observatories.

In any case, the applicant is urged to contact the observatory prior to submitting the application to directly negotiate the intended observing time directly with the observatory. 

Further information on the observatories within the Europlanet Telescope Network can be found in this table or on the map below (by clicking on the respective observatory):

Please be aware that some of the observatories listed above are also providing a limited number of observation nights within the Europlanet Telescope Network for free. Please check the telescope table above for available free time per observatory.

5. Rules for Participation

5.1 Selection process

The selection for funding will be made on the written application and based on the recommendation of the Science Advisory Panel. However, the final decision on any observation grant will be with the NA2 Review Board. The NA2 Review Board will have to consider also regional balancing and equal opportunities for participants.

5.2 Maximum number of applicants funded per project

The expenses of up to two observers can be covered per observatory visit. Upon agreement with the host observatory, additional observers can be allowed to visit the observatory, but their expenses will not be covered.

5.3 Maximum number of grants per applicant

There is a restriction of one proposal per two months that an applicant can submit. Further, a regional balancing might limit the probability for a follow up grant. A good scientific return and a timely adherence to the open data policy will increase the chance for follow up funding.

5.4 Maximum number of grants per observatory

There is no restriction in the number of granted applications/observation nights per observatory. However, a balanced distribution of granted applications/observation nights over the whole Europlanet Telescope Network will be desirable.

5.5 Projects duration

The unit of access to an observatory will be granted by Europlanet in observation nights or hours. The minimum duration is one night/one hour and there will be no maximum duration. However, the suggested duration of an application will have to be scientifically and financially sound.

5.6 Funding principles

Finances to cover observatory visits are limited, i.e. applicants are expected to make efficient use of the funds by using economy travel and hotels suggested by the host facility and within the reimbursement limit of the respective country (see reimbursement rules). Living expenses will be covered via a fixed country-dependent per diem according to the reimbursement rules.

The eligible expenses covered by the call are:

  • For the observer:
    • Travel (economy class)
    • Accommodation up to the respective reimbursement limit
    • Local transport
    • Per diem of the respective country
  • For the observatory:
    • Service costs per night/hour as defined within the respective MoU

Travel and accommodation have to be organized by the applicant, ideally in cooperation with the host observatory.

Travel tickets, accommodation costs, and local transport will only be reimbursed on production of receipts, and after i) delivery of a scientific report covering all observations and ii) submission of the reimbursement form to na2@europlanet-society.org. The full per diem might not be reimbursed if meals were provided with no costs by the host observatory.

For a detailed description of the reimbursement rules, please study this document carefully. The reimbursement form will be send to the successful applicant after her/his application was granted.

The service costs of the observatory will be reimbursed after the granted observations were performed and after the observatory issued an invoice on the incurred service costs that is compliant with the rules of the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IWF/OEAW), the administrating institute of this call. The observatory will receive further information on these rules after a successful application was granted.

To be reimbursed, the observer/the observatory have to commit that the produced observational data will be made publicly available (ideally through the Virtual Observatory of VESPA) after a proprietary period of a maximum of one year.

6. Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible and considered:

  • Applications should be written in English and should be filled-out using the template  
  • The applicant should respect the page limit (administrative part + 2 pages scientific part, including figures, and references)
  • The application should briefly and precisely cover all areas that are addressed in the template
  • The scientific part will be sent to the SAP and should be anonymous. It should, therefore, not contain any information (name of the Project Leader and co-applicant, affiliation, etc.) that allows identification of the applicant(s).
  • The completed application form should be submitted as pdf to  na2@europlanet-society.org
  • Generally, the Project Leader of the application should work for an organisation based in an EU Member State or a Horizon 2020 affiliated country. However, under Horizon 2020, up to 20% of the funds can be allocated to non-EU researchers.
  • Professional scientists/observers as well as amateur astronomers are eligible.
  • The Project Leader and co-applicant(s) should be observers involved in the visit (i.e. application on behalf of another person is not allowed).

Only those proposals that respect all the points above will be considered eligible and will go through the scientific assessment.

7. Observing time and technical feasibility

The applicant should ideally negotiate observing time with the host observatory prior to submitting an application. The applicant should also discuss the technical feasibility with the host observatory prior to submission and can attach a confirmation of the host observatory on the technical feasibility of her/his proposal. Otherwise, the scientific part of the proposal will be forwarded to the respective observatory to validate its technical feasibility.

The technical feasibility validation process is not a scientific assessment; it will not consider the application from a scientific point of view, but rather from an operational and technical implementation perspective.

If an application is considered not feasible, it will not undergo scientific assessment, and the applicant will be informed of the outcome of the validation process and why their application failed.

After correction, the applicant can resubmit her/his proposal if applicable.

8. Confidentiality and evaluation process

8.1. Confidentiality

All participants in the peer review process will be required to note that in line with French Data Protection law No.78-17 of 6th January 1978 as amended and with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU 2016/679) (GDRP), all information provided in the frame of the evaluation process, including the personal data of all the persons involved as well as the content of the project, should not be used for any other purpose than assessment. The NA2 Review Board acknowledges that all information relative to submitted applications provided is of a confidential nature and should be treated as such.

The NA2 Review Board and the Science Advisory Panel performing the evaluation activity set forth will be expressly required to treat all information as strictly confidential.

8.2 Evaluation Process

The scientific evaluation process by the SAP will be anonymous.

All applications will be made available to the SAP on a bi-monthly basis. During the bi-monthly SAP meetings (teleconference), each application will be presented in detail by the head and/or deputy of the SAP and discussed by the full advisory panel. The SAP will then agree on an overall mark for each application and produce a ranked list of applications to the NA2 Review Board.

The NA2 Review Board will follow the advice of the SAP under consideration of financial and socio-economic aspects, equality, diversity and inclusivity. These measures take into account:

  • Gender balance
  • Under-represented countries
  • Amateur astronomers
  • Industry
  • New communities
  • Early career scientists

In general, the NA2 Review Board commits to the Europlanet Society Statement on Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity:

The Europlanet Society is committed to building a diverse, inclusive planetary science community in Europe and to ensuring that individuals within that community experience equal opportunity, regardless of gender, disability, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marital status, age, nationality or socioeconomic background.

9. Evaluation Process

Each proposal will be assessed on the following three scientific criteria

  • Timeliness: Overall scientific or technical merit of the proposal; urgency/timeliness of the proposed observations
  • Originality/Innovative nature of the proposal: Originality of the research proposed and/or of the methodology to be applied
  • Implementation: The quality, effectiveness and feasibility of the methodology and associated work; strategy for utilisation and publication of the new data
  • Scientific relevance/impact: How the objectives and expected results contribute to advancing the state of the art; relevance of the project to the European and/or international planetary scientific community and/or past or future missions and/or industry and other research disciplines
  • Additional assessment criteria: Building collaborations; support of space missions; part of larger coordinated campaign; usage of already developed tools, such as VESPA, observational alert systems etc.

The SAP will rate each of these criteria from 0 to 5 but can weigh some criteria stronger than others. It consists of the following members: Colin Snodgrass (head), Francois Colas (deputy), Ricardo Hueso, Oleksandra Ivanova, Detlef Koschny, Monika Lendl, Anna Marciniak, Bruno Sicardy

The SAP is not responsible for replying to any questions concerning the call. Please contact the NA2 Review Board in case of any question (see Section 13. Contact).

The table below provides a guideline illustrating the value and meaning of individual marks.

Numeric Score, Corresponding Wording & Definition 

5 – Excellent: The application successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the criterion in question. Any shortcomings are minor.

4 – Very good:   The application addresses the criterion very well, although certain improvements are still possible. 

3 – Good: The application addresses the criterion well, although improvements would be necessary.

2 – Fair: While the application broadly addresses the criterion, there are significant weaknesses.

1 – Poor: The criterion is addressed in an inadequate manner, or there are serious inherent weaknesses.

0: The application fails to address the criterion under examination or cannot be judged due to missing or incomplete information.

10. Europlanet policy – Reporting Requirements

Successful applicants are required to prepare a short (maximum 2 A4 pages) report on their observations and findings. This report should also include plans on how to make the data publicly available, how the applicant will disseminate the findings to the scientific community and how to actively engage with the impact and outreach work packages within Europlanet 2024 RI to reach the general public. Moreover, the successful applicants are required to acknowledge Europlanet 2024 in any related publication. Please add the official acknowledgement below to each publication and dissemination activity: “Europlanet 2024 RI has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.”

Data obtained from granted observations will be made publicly available after a proprietary period of a maximum of one year after the observation, except for commercially sensitive information.

11. How to apply?

The applicant is required to completely fill out the following application form thereby addressing all of the therein requested topics:

Further information can be found within the downloadable application form.

The finalized application form should be sent to  na2@europlanet-society.org. After successful submission, a confirmation email will be sent to the applicant. The applicant will also be informed via email if some mandatory information is missing from the application form.

If an application was declined, the applicant will have the chance to resubmit after mitigation and amendment of the addressed weaknesses.

12. Open Access Data Policy

All data produced by the telescope facility within a supported observation must ultimately be made open access based on the FAIR principle: free access and information retrieval. The observing team has a year following the supported observation night to make use of new data, before it is required to be stored and made open access. Longer periods are allowed for on-going PhD studies and industrial partners may individually request a waiver based on the commercially sensitive nature of the data. This requires that all telescope observing teams store data they generate within supported observation nights on a server that itself is accessible to the outside world.

A specific protocol (the so called EPN-TAP service, see www.europlanet-vespa.eu/standards.shtml) of how to set up such a server and produce a user friendly, searchable database has been prepared by the EPN 2024 RI team and is accessible via the Virtual Observatory VESPA. Should a telescope observing team not already have an open access data retrieval system they will be requested to upload it to a publicly available database. For setting up an EPN-TAP service, Europlanet 2024 RI can give technical consultations and provide related travel reimbursement if needed.

13. Contact

In case of any question, please contact the NA2 Review Board:

Organisational or administrative questions might also be send to  na2@europlanet-society.org

14. Important Links

Back to Europlanet Telescope Network main page.