XMM-Newton-NEWS  #35,    28-Jul-2003

ESA, XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre at
European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC)
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XMM-Newton AO-3

The XMM-Newton proposal submission process ended on the 30th of April 2003. In total 692 proposals were received. (This number is slightly lower than the number quoted in XMM-Newton News #33, because of two additional double submissions). Thirty nine of the received proposals fell into the category of the "Large Programs", which was offered for the first time.

The distribution with respect to the scientific categories was as follows:

Scientific Category(#) Standard Proposals Large Programs Total Number
A 95 2 97
B 107 6113
C 114 5119
D 68 0 68
E 15715172
F 11211123
A: Stars, White Dwarfs and Solar System,
B: White Dwarf Binaries, Neutron Stars, Cataclysmic Variables and Black Holes,
C: Supernovae, Supernova Remnants, Diffuse (galactic Emission and Isolated Neutron Stars,
D: Galaxies and Galactic Surveys,
E: Active Galactic Nuclei, Quasars, BL-Lac Objects and X-ray Background,
F: Groups of Galaxies, Cluster of Galaxies and Superclusters

The evaluation of the proposals was organized around 14 panels, consisting of five scientists each. In total 70 scientists from 16 countries reviewed proposals for XMM-Newton's AO-3.

In a first step every proposal was reviewed individually by each of the five scientists of the corresponding panel. After their individual review, the scientists of each panel met, discussed their views and agreed on a priority order for the proposed observations. The panel meetings took place between the 4th and the 13th of June 2003.

During the chairpersons meeting, which took place on June 23rd and 24th 2003 in the XMM-Newton SOC (located at VILSPA, near Madrid) the results of the different panels were merged, cases of duplication were resolved and the overall scientific balance within each scientific category was evaluated. A special session was devoted to the discussion and final selection of the "Large Programs", based on the recommendations of the individual panels

In total, 948 observation were selected for AO-3. The distribution with respect to the scientific categories is as follows:

Scientific Category(#) Observations(#) Rank of Last C Observations Large Pro. Observations (total)
  A or B C      
A 51 50 10119120
B 57 43 100 1101
C 72 57 129 0129
D 54 45 99 0 99
E 132165 29715312
F 90 65 15532187
Totals456425 67948
#; Repetitions, and "candidates" from a list of triggered observations, are not counted.

After approval by the Director of Science the SOC sent the results of the review to every proposer on June 2nd 2003. The whole evaluation process was finished within two months. Please, note that the rank of the last C priority target was wrongly given in some of the e-mails which were sent out. The SOC apologizes for this.

The list of accepted observations is provided at:

This page also gives access to the abstracts of the accepted proposals.

The XMM-Newton SOC wishes every successful PI interesting and exciting results from their observations. It should be stressed that observations will only be finally accepted after the full observing details are specified during the second phase of the proposal submission. The details of the scheduling of the second phase submission process are specified in the e-mails which were sent to each PI of a successful proposal.

XMM-Newton Remote Proposal Submission System (XRPS)

Following some problems encountered with XRPS performance during the heaviest-load period of the XMM-Newton AO-2 proposal submission exercise in October 2001, the XMM-Newton Remote Proposal Submission System and strategy have both been dramatically revised. Network and firewall approaches have been adapted, hardware performance has been enhanced, and extensive efficiencies have been achieved in software implementation. The adoption of a two-phase proposal submission strategy ensures that during the AO-3 Phase II Proposal Data Entry cycle, the full capabilities of the revised XRPS system will be focussed on those users whose successful proposals have been awarded AO-3 observing time by OTAC.

For these reasons we are confident that problems such as those encountered at the single deadline of the AO-2 Proposal Submission exercise will play no part in the staggered AO-3 Phase II Proposal Data Entry cycle.

That said, it is only common sense and friendly advice to allow that our users will enjoy the benefits of a more responsive system and data entry environment if they avoid leaving the job until the last moment! So we encourage PIs to benefit from the full extent of the time windows that have been made available for proposal data entry.

Supported platforms for futures SAS releases

The number of binary distributions of each SAS release provided to XMM-Newton observers is always a trade-off. On the one hand it is our intention to cover the needs of the astronomical community, on the other the workload required to produce, support, maintain, test and document the various distributions must reflect available resources and be reconciled with other demands on limited manpower. It is not possible to support all platforms.

We have been asked by the XMM-Newton Users Group to announce well in advance the platforms we are able to support officially with binary distributions for each SAS release. We foresee the next SAS release (SAS 6.0) towards the end of this year. The platforms we intend to support officially are:
The SciSim & SAS Maintenance Team @ the XMM-Newton SOC

Reminder: a planning tool for OM observations

As it was announced in the XMM-Newton News #31, the Optical Monitor Team at MSSL has set up a web page where useful hints on proposal preparation, including an OM planning tool, are available. The URL is:

A pointer to this page can be found in the XMM-Newton SOC main page, under Project Related Links.

Yours sincerely,
XMM-Newton SOC