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Geospace Observatory (GO) Canada – Instruments and Data

Announcement of Opportunity

Publication date:

Notice of Intent deadline: May 6, 2013

Full Application deadline: May 27, 2013


The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is pleased to announce an opportunity for the Canadian solar-terrestrial science and space weather forecasting communities to participate in Geospace Observatory (GO) Canada. The GO Canada program aims to advance our knowledge of Canadian geospace and, in doing so, mitigate the impact of disturbances in geospace on the daily lives of Canadians. Through this Announcement of Opportunity (AO), the CSA intends to fund a number of projects that will observe geospace above Canada and enhance Canadian space missions and projects, most notably the CASSIOPE/e-POP mission, the Canadian Electric Field Instruments (CEFI) on the European Space Agency (ESA's) Swarm mission, and the ground-based observatories that comprise part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA's) THEMIS mission. The AO is available at the link below.

GO AO (PDF, 287 KB)

The AO also references the following documents:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The following list compiles all the questions and answers received and forwarded by the CSA since the opening of this AO. This list is given for information purposes only; always refer to the AO to obtain the information on which all the proposals received will be evaluated by the CSA. Please note that all enquiries must be addressed to the contact person identified in the AO.

1. The AO requests NSERC Form 100s for co-investigators (CoIs), which is a lot of work for CoIs not working in the Canadian academic system. Could you please relax this requirement?

Co-investigators not affiliated with a Canadian university may provide an equivalent document. The application form has been updated accordingly and is available on the AO webpage.

2. How am I to interpret the project eligibility criterion requiring that instruments be able to identify and monitor large features in geospace?

This criterion helps ensure that GO instruments will be capable of making valuable observations across large regions of geospace. Doing so increases the likelihood that several GO projects will simultaneously observe the same phenomena while also increasing the frequency of conjunctions between ground-based and space-based instruments. Please interpret the criterion's definition for what constitutes a large feature as a guideline.

3. Should our budget correspond to a project of 60 months?

Yes; please propose a project budget with a start date of July 1, 2013 and end of June 30, 2018. The application form has been updated accordingly and is available on the AO webpage.

4. An "average" or better score for evaluation criterion 4.2 requires that "no logins, authentication, or communication with the project team will be required to access the data". We currently use login information to gather data requested by CSA for its performance indicators. Could you please clarify the boundaries for this particular criterion?

While an "average" or better score requires that "no logins, authentication, or communication with the project team will be required to access the data", you may still ask users to voluntarily provide such information or voluntarily engage in such communication.

5. Please correct the AO (Table 1 – Instrument and infrastructure deployments) to show that the Sachs Harbour fluxgate magnetometer is owned by the University of Alberta.

The table has been corrected and now shows no instruments deployed at proposed GO core sites. The AO has been updated accordingly and is available on the AO webpage.

6. For groups that have several instruments operating as a network and with a budget of the order of several $80,000-per-year awards, how does the CSA recommend this be split into independent applications?

An application can be any subset of the proposed network that satisfies the eligibility criteria. Independent is meant in the sense that it does not rely on the other proposals being funded to be viable. This may mean an array will be partly funded, but those parts that are funded will be self-sufficient.

7. I intend to submit more than one application in response to the AO. May I mail them in a single package? May I copy all applications to a single storage medium?

Yes, related applications may be sent in a single package. However, each application must be submitted on a separate storage medium (USB memory key, CD, or DVD).

8. What is the appropriate deployment plan for instruments that are already deployed?

Please provide all the information requested in Appendix A – Deployment and Operations Plan, noting, where relevant, that the instruments are already deployed.

9. May we refer to previous Canadian Geospace Monitoring (CGSM) projects, mentioning the successes of such projects, and indicating that a proposed project is a continuation of a previous CGSM project?

Yes; you may refer to past projects. Please be aware that reviewers will not be provided with any information about CGSM projects beyond what is available in the AO and your application.

10. Who may be included in the project team?

Anyone may be a member of the project team. However, University faculty members and government employees may not claim salaries under the funding agreement.

11. Evaluation criterion 1.3 specifically mentions the NASA Van Allen Probes as an international mission which would be eligible under the criterion. Are there other missions who would also be eligible?

Yes, any international mission not having substantial Canadian involvement would be eligible under evaluation criterion 1.3. The CSA is not involved in the Van Allen Probes mission.

12. Would neutral wind measurements be considered as neutral gas observations?

Yes, as long as the measurements being made are of the thermospheric neutral wind and are the primary type of observation made by the instruments.

13. Many applicants have academic responsibilities associated with the end of the academic term. Could you please extend the deadlines?

Yes; the Notice of Intent and application deadlines have been extended to May 6 and May 27, 2013 respectively. The AO has been updated accordingly and is available on the AO webpage.

14. Do we need to fill in the budget information of the application form (sections 2 and 7), and the budget spreadsheet?

Yes, you have to provide all the information as it is required throughout the review process.

15. Do co-investigators need to provide letters of support for a proposal?

Yes; Section 8 of the application form asks the applicant to provide a letter of support from each co-investigator.

16. It appears from the way evaluation criterion 1.1 is formulated that both highly original instrument technology AND a very good potential for a high-value contribution to research aimed at addressing GO program objectives are required to score an "excellent" rating. Would this be a correct interpretation?


17. Could an older design of instrument, which is still world-class and state-of-the-art, be rated as "excellent"?

Existing instrument technology that is "world-class and state-of-the art" could be considered by the reviewers as the best instruments of this type deployed worldwide. The reviewers will use criterion 1.1 to evaluate the proposed instrument technology.

18. Could other aspects of the instrument's operation, for example data products derived from the instrument, be classified as "technology" and hence contribute to the "original contribution and innovation" specified in the criteria?

Please refer to the AO objectives; objectives A and B refer to instruments and data products. Evaluation criterion 1.1 will be used by the reviewers  to grade the proposed instrument technology. Evaluation criteria 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 will be used by thereviewers to grade the scientific value of the proposed data and data products.

19. The AO states "All data must be made fully, freely, and openly available on the shortest feasible timescale (no more than one week after acquisition by the instrument). An exception may be made for those data that must be manually retrieved from the instrument (no more than three months after acquisition by the instrument)." Experience shows that the steps involved in manually retrieving large datasets would make the three-month limit a substantially tighter (and more costly) requirement than under the CGSM program. Would you consider relaxing this requirement?

The requirement has been modified and the AO updated accordingly. It is available on the CSA website.

20. Does the response to question 12 preclude measurements of the wind field and upward propagating waves in the mesopause region (85-100 km)?

Measurements in the mesopause region are eligible as long as the proposal clearly demonstrates how those measurements are primarily associated with geospace phenomena.

21. Must all proposals include ground based instruments, or is it acceptable to submit a proposal that adds value to existing ground based instruments?

All proposals in this AO must include the use of ground based instruments as stated in the AO, Section 2. A future AO will address the scientific use of the data, as stated in the AO, Section 1.

22. The AO's evaluation criteria rate the ability of the data to enable research aimed at addressing mission scientific objectives of science space missions. How can data from ground based instruments enhance space missions?

The ground based instruments selected by the process of this AO will make observations of geospace from the ground. Many scientific missions use ground based observations to complement satellite measurements and achieve their scientificobjectives.

23. In which budget category would you like the "Shipping and handling" (ie. cost associated with either shipping instruments to sites, or recovery of hard disks) to appear?

You can include these costs under the "data acquisition" header.

24. Section 4 of the application form requests the attachment of a detailed description of the project plan that includes objectives, methodology, roles and responsibilities as well as subheadings corresponding to the applicable Evaluation Criteria. How are we expected to present our proposal? How will the objectives, methodology, and roles and responsibilities be scored?

The evaluators will use only the evaluation criteria identified in Appendix C of the AO to score your proposal. A suggested template is provided below:

1. Executive Summary
Summary of the proposal suitable for public release

2. Project Description
2.1 Detailed description
Description of the proposed instruments and infrastructure

2.2 Objectives
Project objectives and their link to the objectives identified in the AO

3. Methodology
Refer to Deployment and Operations Plan and to the Data Management Plan as required

4. Team
Expertise, collaborations, roles and responsibilities

5. Evaluation of the proposal
To avoid duplication, applicants may refer to different sections of their proposal by identifying the page and specific paragraph where the criterion has already been addressed

5.1 Benefits to Canada
5.1.1 Advancement of knowledge and technology in the geospace sciences
5.1.2 Enhancement of scientific return from Canadian space missions and projects
5.1.3 Enhancement of Canada's world-class expertise/leadership

5.2 Feasibility
5.2.1 Feasibility of the ground-based observation system
5.2.2 Feasibility of the data processing and management system

5.3 Resources
5.3.1 Quality and experience of the team
5.3.2 Access to other funding sources and resources

5.4 Results    
5.4.1 Collection and generation of high-value data
5.4.2 Preservation and accessibility of the data

5.5 Risk and Mitigation
5.5.1 Difficulties associated with operating remote observatories
5.5.2 Difficulties associated with open access and reliable preservation of data

6. Conclusion

25. In Section 7 of the application form, do we include GO Canada as a funding source?

No, only list the other funding sources.

26. In section 3.2, an "Excellent" score requires confirmed leveraged funds. Are leveraged funds mandatory? Is it obligatory to secure a partner to obtain the score "Excellent"?

No leveraged funds are necessary to obtain a "Good" score. To pursue an "Excellent" score, a proposal must show that funding from the partners is guaranteed as confirmed in agreement letters.

27. Is the mission THEMIS considered a Canadian space mission / project as per criteria 1.2?

Yes, the NASA THEMIS mission receives significant financial support from the CSA to operate the Canadian ground infrastructure, making it a mission with substantial Canadian involvement, and  would be evaluated under criterion 1.2.

28. In the AO section 3.2 it is stated: "The instruments must be capable of autonomous and continuous operation whenever the phenomena being observed are present". What about cases where they are present but cannot be observed?

Under such conditions, the instruments are intended to make observations whenever they can make valuable measurements.

29. Are Canadian instruments deployed in the U.S. eligible for funding under this AO?

Canadian instruments deployed in the U.S. can be included in the proposal, providing a leveraged value, but their operation cannot be funded by this AO.

30. Section 7 of the GO application form requires a budget allocated by fiscal year while the spreadsheet refers to project years. Which form is correct?

Please provide the budget allocation per project year. The Application form is now updated on the AO webpage.

31. Must we include a detailed description of each Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) (inputs, outputs, main tasks, resources, etc.) and, if so, is there a suggested format for the WBS description?

The provided WBS is recommended as a baseline and may be expanded to fit your project by adding tasks and high level descriptions. The WBS can be referred to in other sections of the proposal.

32. Why does the itemized budget spreadsheet impose a limitation of $96,000 that is not documented in the AO?

That restriction is removed from the updated spreadsheet that is now posted in the AO website.

33. How do I evaluate the value of existing equipment in the budget?

Evaluate the fair market value of equipment in the same working condition.

34. Is there a page limit for section 6?

No - there is no page limit for section 6. You can include as much details as you like for the WBS description, but only a brief description is required by this AO. The detailed information may be presented under separate pages.

35. Are scientific references included in the 20-page limit of the project proposal?

No - You can include the references in a separate annex.

36. What exactly is meant by "value-added data products"?

Data products are generated by processing the digital information output by an instrument. Value-added data products are generated by processing lower-level data products in ways that make the resulting data products more valuable to the users.

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