PI Expectations

PIs are encouraged to participate in the early formulation phases via an Instrument Development Call to the community soliciting: 

  • Instrument concept studies and Phase A design studies for both new instruments and upgrades to existing instruments
  • Mini grants for efforts and equipment costs for either new tools and techniques to improve the observatory scientific productivity or minor hardware capability enhancements
  • Proposal development efforts to draft and submit proposals to funding agencies

Mini grants for instrument work are considered too small and handled outside of the instrument lifecycle development processes described in this document. The Concept studies, Phase A design, and Proposal Development are funded through this call to the community. The call is made annually with notionally each phase lasting one year.

Figure 3 shows the notional trajectory for the early design formulation phases laid out on a calendar year. The notional trajectory is driven by both WMKO fiscal year constraints and planning that starts 1 Oct annually as well as anticipated NSF grant submission deadlines that are in the winter months.  The latest SSC meeting that lines up with the FY and NSF funding time frames is the summer SSC meeting, and it is at that meeting when instrument development initiatives are evaluated. WMKO’s instrument development trajectory begins with a call to the community that is released in either April or May following an SSC meeting during which the call is approved for distribution. The community composes and submits white papers for concepts, phase A/system design, proposal development activities, and mini grants.  All white papers are evaluated by the SSC in June or July during the summer SSC meeting. Projects are recommended to move forward at the summer SSC meeting, and PIs are provided feedback and funding instructions if funds are awarded. There is a second SSC evaluation period in November if further review is requested by the SSC. The November period is intended for proposal development extended review.

The spiral progression assumes a one-year duration for each phase, but the schedule and process are flexible. As an example, instruments that have completed a conceptual design prior to approaching the SSC for approval, may a present their conceptual design seeking funding and approval to move into the Phase A/system design phase. Smaller upgrade projects may request moving to a proposal development phase and skip the Phase A/system design phase because the scope of the project does not merit that level of planning. Larger projects or teams with limited time could request two years of Phase A/System design work to properly mature the designs.