ALMA Cycle 8 2021 Pre-Announcement
Following the postponement of Cycle 8 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) will now start the next cycle of observations, referred to as "Cycle 8 2021", in October 2021. A Call for Proposals (CfP) with detailed information on Cycle 8 2021 is anticipated to be issued in March 2021 and the deadline for proposal submission will be in April 2021. The purpose of this pre-announcement is to highlight aspects of the CfP to assist with early planning, and it includes newly updated information over the previous pre-announcement delivered for Cycle 8 in December 2019. As the global response to the pandemic continues to evolve, we encourage interested parties to follow the ALMA Science Portal for the latest information.
ALMA Cycle 8 2021 will start in October 2021 and span 12 months. The JAO anticipates having 4300 hours for approved science observations on the 12-m Array and 3000 hours on the Atacama Compact Array (ACA), also known as the Morita Array.
The key dates (anticipated) for Cycle 8 2021 are:
|17 March 2021||Release of the ALMA Cycle 8 2021 CfP and Observing Tool, and opening of archive for proposal submission|
|21 April 2021||Proposal submission deadline|
|August 2021||Results of the proposal review sent to proposers|
|8 September 2021||ACA Supplemental Call for Proposals released, and opening of archive for proposal submission|
|1 October 2021||Start of Cycle 8 2021 observations|
|6 October 2021||Cycle 8 2021 Supplemental Call deadline|
Proposal types in Cycle 8 2021 will include Regular, Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), Passive Phasing, Target of Opportunity, and Large Program. VLBI proposals work in concert with the Global mm-VLBI Array (GMVA) or the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). GMVA programs must also submit a proposal to the GMVA by its 1 February 2021 deadline. Additional information about proposing with ALMA using the GMVA will be made available in the GMVA Call for Proposals in early January 2021.
Antenna configurations for the main 12-m Array will be called C-1, C-2, and so on up to C-10, with C-1 having similar characteristics to the C43-1 configuration of Cycle 7, and likewise for the others. Cycle 8 2021 will not include the two longest baseline 12-m Array configurations, C-9 and C-10. Maximum baselines in Cycle 8 2021 will therefore be 8.5 km in configuration C-8. Configurations C-9 and C-10 with maximum baselines of 13.9 km and 16.2 km, respectively, will again be available in Cycle 9.
In addition to the main Cycle 8 2021 CfP, the JAO will issue a Supplemental Call for proposals to use the ACA in stand-alone mode. More information on the Supplemental Call is given below.
New in Cycle 8 2021
The following technical capabilities will be available this Cycle for the first time:
- Solar observations in Band 5
- A passive-phasing mode that allows observations of fainter VLBI targets (Bands 3 and 6), and can also be used in an ALMA-only mode primarily for observations of pulsars (Band 3). This mode can be used to observe sources with a correlated flux density < 500 mJy within an unresolved core on ALMA baselines up to 1 km, but requires there to be a bright calibrator close to the science target.
- High frequency observations (Bands 9 and 10) with the stand-alone 7-m Array
- Mosaicking of continuum linear polarization observations (Bands 3 to 7) with the 12-m Array
- Spectral scans with the 7-m Array
- Up to a total of 75 hours of full polarization observations of a single field with the 7-m Array in stand-alone mode at the Main Call only
Updates to the Proposal Review Process
ALMA will adopt a distributed peer review process for scientific review of most proposals submitted to Cycle 8 2021. After a successful pilot run in the Cycle 7 Supplemental Call (see ALMA Memo 616), distributed peer review will be used for all proposals requesting less than 25 hours on the 12-m Array, and ACA stand-alone proposals requesting less than 150 hours on the 7-m Array. In this review system, for each submitted proposal the PI (or one of the delegated co-Is) will be responsible for reviewing up to 10 other submitted proposals, thus increasing the involvement of the ALMA community in the review process.
- Large proposals and proposals requesting more than 25 hours on the 12-m Array will be reviewed by science review panels, as in previous cycles.
- ALMA encourages PIs to submit larger, more ambitious proposals. Therefore, there is no longer a cap on the total time that can be allocated to Large Programs. Further, Large Programs and proposals that require more than 25 hours on the 12-m Array will have first priority to fill at least 10% of the observing queue.
- All Cycle 8 2021 proposals will be reviewed using a dual anonymous procedure. While proposers will still enter their names and affiliations in the Observing Tool, their identities will be concealed from the reviewers. It will be the responsibility of the investigators to write their proposals such that anonymity is preserved. By using this procedure, we aim to minimize unconscious bias. Guidelines on preparing anonymous proposals will be made available prior to the time of the CfP.
A FAQ on the proposal process is available here.
ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals delayed!
On behalf of the ALMA Director, with support from all Executives and the ALMA Board, the recent decisions taken regarding the status of Cycle 7 and Cycle 8 are as follows:
- The start of ALMA Cycle 8 has been postponed until 2021 October. It is anticipated that the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals will open again in 2021 March.
- ALMA Cycle 7 will continue through 2021 September, with currently non-completed projects ranked A, B and C remaining in the observing queue.
There remain many questions outstanding regarding resuming observations and accepting future proposals during these uncertain times. ALMA is working on these questions and will provide a next update to the community in the coming weeks.
The Regional ARCs continue to provide support to their communities. Please contact the ALMA Helpdesk at https://help.almascience.org if you have any questions, comments or concerns.