Canadian participation in the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Participating Scientist Program

Announcement of Opportunity

Notice of intent deadline: March 4, 2011

Application deadline: March 31, 2011

Appendix A - Evaluation Grid Form

Scoring and weights

Each criterion will be rated on a letter scale from A to D, with A being the highest score. A numerical weight is associated with each letter.

1. Benefits to Canada: Advancement of scientific knowledge relevant to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Exploration Program.

Benefits to Canada criterion score

Max. 20
Min. 10

This criterion evaluates the originality of the research and its likely impact and potential to advance the objectives listed in the report "Canadian Scientific Priorities for the Global Exploration Program".

Poor. The research does not address Canadian priorities and/or is a reapplication of previous work. The project lacks novel concepts and will not contribute to advancement of new knowledge. (Score: D=0)

Average. The research addresses Canadian Scientific Priorities in a general way and could advance knowledge in the field of space science. The work is largely derivative of previous work. (Score: C=10)

Good. The probable results are likely to advance knowledge central to Canadian Scientific Priorities. The proposed research involves novel or original concepts or methods, and/or builds on previous work. (Score: B=15)

Excellent. The probable results are likely to advance knowledge central to Canadian Scientific Priorities and have a broad, long-term impact beyond the immediate field of study. The proposal is distinguished by highly novel or original scientific or technical concepts or methods, and/or builds significantly on previous work. (Score: A=20)

2. Results in terms of science dissemination and contribution to the training of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP)

Results in terms of science dissemination and contribution to the training of Highly Qualified Personnel criterion score

Max. 35

2.1 Publication and science dissemination plan

This criterion evaluates the Applicant Co-Investigator's commitment to disseminating results from the mission.

  • Does the proposal include a publication plan and a plan to disseminate results (conference presentations, public talks, website etc.)
  • Will a large and diverse audience be reached by the dissemination plan?

Poor. The proposal does not include reference to planned publications or science dissemination. (Score: D=0)

Average. The proposal indicates one or more likely scientific publications or science dissemination activities. (Score: C=5)

Good. The proposal includes an explicit and realistic scientific publication and science dissemination plan and the Applicant demonstrates previous successful science dissemination activities. (Score: B=10)

Excellent. The proposal includes a well-thought out and structured scientific publications and science dissemination plan that involves novel approaches and that is likely to raise Canada's profile in the mission considerably. (Score: A=15)

2.2 Student involvement

This criterion evaluates the level of involvement of students and the training they will receive to become HQP in areas of Canadian Scientific Priorities and for roles in future Exploration missions.

  • Will Canadian students be involved in the project? How many?
  • What is the student's contribution to the project? How important is their contribution to the success of the project?
  • What training will they receive?

Poor. No student involvement is described in the proposal. (Score: D=0)

Average. One or more students will be involved in the project but there is a lack of details on their level and type of involvement. (Score: C=10)

Good. One or more students are involved in the project and there is a good description on how they will benefit from their participation in the project. Student involvement is important for the success of the project. (Score: B=15)

Excellent. One or more students are involved in the project and there is a detailed description on how they will benefit from their participation in the project. Student involvement is important for the success of the project. They will receive training in a key area of Canadian scientific priority and that is relevant to future Exploration missions. The Applicant demonstrates a good track record in training students. (Score: A=20)

3. Resources

Resources criterion score

Max. 20

3.1 Quality and experience of the Applicant

This criterion evaluates the qualifications and past performance of the Applicant.

  • Does the Applicant possess the scientific expertise required to undertake the proposed project?
  • Has the Applicant previously been involved in space missions? Has the Applicant previously been involved in Mars missions?
  • Has the Applicant demonstrated the ability to manage and complete similar projects?

Poor. The Applicant has limited or no experience and expertise in the field of study. (Score: D=5)

Average. The Applicant has some experience in the field of study. The Applicant has some experience in the management and completion of similar projects. (Score: C=10)

Good. The Applicant has demonstrated experience in the field of study but has not previously been involved in Mars missions. (Score: B=15)

Excellent. The Applicant has extensive experience in the field of study. The Applicant has demonstrated the ability to manage and complete more than two similar projects and has previously been involved in Mars science operations. (Score: A=20)

4. Feasibility

Feasibility criterion score

Max. 20

4.1 Budget and Access to other funding sources and resources

This criterion evaluates the confirmed funding and in-kind contribution from the Applicants and other organizations. Funding from other organizations than the CSA must be confirmed if it exceeds 25% of the project budget. The application includes letters from funding sources confirming their level of funding.

  • Does the project include financial and/or in-kind contribution? If so, by whom? At which level?
  • Does the applicant provide in-kind contribution such as access to their laboratories, field sites, or instruments? If so, what is the value of such contribution?
  • Is this contribution vital for the project?
  • What is the justification for such contribution?
  • Do other organizations confirm their funding or in-kind contribution?

Poor. There are no funding leveraged or in-kind contributions from the Applicant or from other organizations. (Score: D=0)

Average. Funds may come from an organization other than the CSA but have yet to be confirmed. There is in-kind contribution to be provided by the applicant and/or other organizations but such contribution is neither significant nor important for the success of the project. (Score: C=10)

Good. There is some leveraging of funds. The Applicant as well as other organizations will provide funds as well as in-kind contribution. Such contribution is important but not necessarily critical for the success of the project. Funds to be provided by other organizations have been confirmed or represent less than 25% of the project budget. (Score: B=15)

Excellent. Leveraging of funds from other organizations is significant. Confirmed funds as well as in-kind contribution are vital for the success of the project. Funds from other organization than the CSA represent more than 25% and are all confirmed. (Score: A=20)

5. Risk and mitigation strategies - Project risks (financial, managerial, environmental and technical) and mitigation strategies.

Risk and mitigation strategies criterion score

Max. 5

This criterion evaluates key risks associated with the project and the mitigation strategies for each risk. It includes a thorough analysis of the project's financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks.

  • Has the Applicant identified and described in details the risks including but not limited to environmental, technical, managerial (including access to resources including financial, human and material), and schedule risks associated with the project?
  • Are the mitigation strategies for each risk correctly addressed and realistic?
  • What is the probability that such risks would occur?

Poor. The proposal does not identify any key risks nor mitigation strategies or some risks are identified but related mitigations strategies are missing. (Score: D=0)

Average. Some, but not all, key risks and their mitigation strategies are defined. (Score: C=2)

Good. Key financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks and their mitigation strategies are defined but there are few details on the risk evaluation occurrence probability presented. (Score: B=4)

Excellent. Key financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks and their mitigation strategies are well described. The risk evaluation occurrence probability is deemed realistic. (Score: A=5)

Evaluation score

Total Max. 100
Total Min. 50

Question 1: Are non-faculty members at Canadian Universities permitted to propose to the CSA as the proposal Principal Investigator (P.I.)? Applications by non-faculty members at US institutions are permitted under the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Participating Scientist Announcement of opportunity (AO) Rules.

Answer 1: The Grant will be made to the Canadian university. Should the Canadian university permit a non-faculty member to be the P.I. of an award, that person will be deemed eligible by the CSA.

Question 2: Can this program support Canadian Scientists (again, specifically non-faculty members) working at Canadian Universities who wish to be Co-Investigators on a proposal led by a US-based P.I.? (i.e. can a proposal through the CSA's AO support the Canadian Portion of a US-based Participating Scientist proposal?)

Answer 2: The intent of this AO is to select Canadian Participating Scientists. This AO is not intended to support collaborators of US or other international Participating Scientists.

Question 3: How firm is the March 4 deadline?

Answer 3: CSA requires a minimum of 1 week to process the letters of intent. CSA will consider late submissions however late submissions will challenge CSA's ability to respond to eligible applicants with a Letter of Support in time for NASA's deadline.

Letters of Intent will be accepted by email

Format of Letters of Intent

The Letter of Intent will be used to assess eligibility according to the AO Section 2.1 Eligible Projects and Section 2.2 Eligible Recipients.

Therefore, at a minimum, in order to allow eligibility of the Project to be assessed, the Letter of Intent is expected to include:

  1. Title of the proposed research project,
  2. Relevance to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission (100 words, objectives and which of the MSL instruments will be used),
  3. Time commitment to surface operations (as required by NASA),
  4. Relevance to Canada (50 words, reference to the CSEW6 report),
  5. List of any collaborators that will be included in the proposal,
  6. Funding requested from CSA by year.

To allow eligibility of the award Recipient to be assessed, the letter should clarify the Applicant's status with a Canadian university.