The Spitzer Space Telescope is executing the seventh year of extended warm mission science. The cryogenic mission operated from 2003 to 2009. The observing proposal review process has evolved from large, week-long, in-person meetings during the cryogenic mission to the introduction of panel telecon reviews in the warm mission. Further compression of the schedule and budget for the proposal solicitation and selection process led to additional changes in 2014. Large proposals are still reviewed at an in-person meeting but smaller proposals are no longer discussed by a topical science panel. This hybrid process, involving an in-person committee for the larger proposals and strictly external reviewers for the smaller proposals, has been successfully implemented through two observing cycles. While people like the idea of not having to travel to a review it is still the consensus opinion, in our discussions with the community, that the in-person review panel discussions provide the most satisfying result. We continue to use in-person reviews for awarding greater than 90% of the observing time.
The Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology, is
NASA's multi-mission data center for infrared astrophysics. Some of IPAC's services include administering data
analysis funding awards to the astronomical community, organizing conferences and workshops, and soliciting and
selecting fellowship and observing proposals. As most of these services are repeated annually or biannually, it becomes
necessary to maintain multiple lists of email contacts associated with each service. MABEL is a PHP/MySQL web
database application designed to facilitate this process. It serves as an address book containing up-to-date contact
information for thousands of recipients. Recipients may be assigned to any number of email lists categorized by IPAC
project and team. Lists may be public (viewable by all project members) or private (viewable only by team members).
MABEL can also be used to send HTML or plain-text emails to multiple lists at once and prevents duplicate emails to a
single recipient. This work was performed at the California Institute of Technology under contract to the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) is NASA's multi-mission center of expertise for long-wavelength
astrophysics. Proposals for various IPAC missions and programs are ingested via MySQL/PHP web database
applications. Proposers use web forms to enter coversheet information and upload PDF files related to the proposal.
Upon proposal submission, a unique directory is created on the webserver into which all of the uploaded files are placed.
The coversheet information is converted into a PDF file using a PHP extension called FPDF. The files are concatenated
into one PDF file using the command-line tool pdftk and then forwarded to the review committee. This work was
performed at the California Institute of Technology under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space
The telescope time allocation process for NASA's Great Observatories involves a substantial commitment of time and
expertise by the astronomical community. The annual review meetings typically have 100 external participants. Each
reviewer spends 3-6 days at the meeting in addition to one-two weeks of preparation time, reading and grading
proposals. The reviewers grade the proposals based on their individual reading prior to the meeting and grade them again
after discussion within the broad, subject-based review panels. We summarize here how the outcome of the review
process for three Spitzer observing cycles would have changed if the selection had been done strictly based on the
preliminary grades without having the panels meet and discuss the proposals. The changes in grading during the review
meeting have a substantial impact on the final list of selected proposals. Approximately 30% of the selected proposals
would not have been included if just the preliminary rankings had been used to make the selection.
The Spitzer Science Center (SSC), located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology, supports the science
operations of NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope. The SSC issues an annual Call for Proposals inviting
investigators worldwide to submit Spitzer Space Telescope proposals. The Spitzer Proposal Review Website (SPRITE)
is a MySQL/PHP web database application designed to support the SSC proposal review process. Review panel
members use the software to view, grade, and write comments about the proposals, and SSC support team members
monitor the grading and ranking process and ultimately generate a ranked list of all the proposals. The software is also
used to generate, edit, and email award letters to the proposers. This work was performed at the California Institute of
Technology under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.