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James Webb Space Telescope Early Release Science (ERS) and Cycle 1 General Observers (GO) projects

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Space Exploration

CSA Announcement of Opportunity (AO)

Publication date:



  • Eligible Recipients: Canadian Universities and post-secondary institutions
  • Funding Type: Grants
  • Maximum Amount per Project:
    • Category A – PI/Co-PI projects: up to $90,000
    • Category B – Co-I only projects: up to $25,000
  • Estimated Total Amount of the Announcement of Opportunity (AO): $781,670
  • Maximum Timeframe of the Project: 2 years
  • Estimated Projects Start Date: -


The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is in its final stage of preparation before launch and important steps are being taken to put in place its ambitious science program. As one of the international partners in this NASA's next astrophysics flagship mission, CSA has negotiated that at least five percent of JWST general observing time shall be granted to Canadian astronomers over the mission lifetime. This announcement of opportunity is to request proposals from Canadian astronomers granted observing time through NASA's Cycle 1 General Observers (GO) or the Director's Discretionary Early Release Science call for proposals. The Cycle 1 GO call for proposals has been issued on with a deadline of . Canadian astronomers must have first submitted a winning proposal to the NASA's call for proposals (as a PI, co-PI or co-investigator) to be considered in the context of this CSA's Announcement of Opportunity (AO).

This AO is consistent with the terms and conditions of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Class Grant and Contribution Program to Support Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology – Research Component.

Applicants are asked to read the following AO thoroughly before submitting their applications. This AO was prepared to help applicants complete the application process, and outlines key elements, including mandatory criteria for eligibility, details on eligible projects and the selection process. In the event of any discrepancies between this AO and the individual funding agreements governing a project, the latter document(s) will take precedence.


The objective of this AO is to provide support to Canadian astronomers for the analysis of JWST data and dissemination of results through publications. It is intended to help Canadian astronomers perform fundamental research in the several areas of infrared astronomy enabled by JWST and to provide a unique training opportunity in Canada for students and post-doctoral researchers.

The key results for CSA expected from selected proposals are:


In this section

3.1 Eligible Recipients

Eligible recipients under this AO are Canadian universities and post secondary institutions.

3.2 Eligible Projects

Eligible projects for this AO are those that were selected based on JWST open observing time and that were selected as a result of the ERS and GO Cycle 1 call for proposals issued by NASA/STScI. Only one application per project will be accepted.

One of the following roles, must be filled by a Canada based astronomer (see section 3.1):

The projects have to be based on the analysis of the ERS and GO Cycle 1 data for the purpose of advancing knowledge of the astronomy fields of research enabled by JWST.

All development phases necessary for a project are eligible. Any logical breakdown or combination of these phases can constitute a funded project. However, breaking down a project into numerous phases to obtain more than the maximum grant or contribution is not allowed. Furthermore, even if the maximum funding for one project is not reached, the completion of a funded phase does not automatically guarantee funding of the remaining phases.

3.3 Links to CSA Priorities

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must contribute to at least one of the following CSA priorities such as expressed in the Space Strategy ( [PDF, 1.66 MB]) and the report Canadian Space Exploration - Science and Space Health priorities for Next Decade and Beyond (2017) (PDF, 3.66 MB):

Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that increase the representation and advancement of women and underrepresented groups in space sciences and engineering as one means to foster excellence in research and training.

3.4 Links to the Class G&C Program Objectives

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must contribute to the achievement of at least one of the following objectives:


In this section

4.1 Required Documentation

Applicants must submit a completed Application as described below.

The Application must include the following:

The application must be prepared as a single PDF-formatted file containing all of the above requested documents with all security features disabled. Please order the document with the application form and proposal first. The proposal and supporting documents must be included in the file as searchable PDF-formatted documents (PDF/A-1a or PDF/A-2a formats preferred). If there are any accessibility issues with the submitted PDF file, all consequences reside with the Applicant.

Any missing supporting document or any incoherence between the requested documents and the information provided within the documents may lead to the rejectionof theproposal on that sole basis.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the application complies with all relevant federal, provincial, and territorial legislation and municipal bylaws.

Applications can be:

Documents must be received by the CSA electronically (successfully uploaded) or via mail or recognized courier service, no later than 2 p.m. ET on .

It is to be noted that:

4.2 Service Standards – Complete Applications

Applicants will be notified in writing of decisions regarding their application. Selected applications will be announced on the CSA website. The CSA has set the following service standards for processing times, acknowledgement of receipt, funding decisions and payment procedures.

Compliance with these service standards is a shared responsibility. Applicants must submit all required documentation in a timely fashion. Service standards may vary by Announcement of Opportunity.


In this section

5.1 Eligibility Criteria

5.2 Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

Criteria Description A B C D E Minimum Score
Benefits to Canada The significance and potential for advancement of scientific knowledge in astronomy relevant to JWST science objectives 20 15 10 5 0 10
Project Feasibility Research methodology 10 8 6 4 0 21
Research plan and schedule 20 18 15 12 0
Resources Qualification and experience of the applicant and investigation team 10 8 6 4 0 16
Budget justification 15 12 10 8 0
Results Publication and science dissemination plan 20 15 10 5 0 10
Risk and mitigation strategies Project risks (financial, managerial, scientific and/or technical) and mitigation strategies. 5 4 3 2 0 3

Specific evaluation of the criteria is detailed under Annex A "Evaluation Criteria". The annex defines each criterion, the scale rating of each criterion. A minimum score of 60 is required for a proposal to be selected for funding.

5.3 Evaluation Process

Only applications that have passed the eligibility assessment listed in (Section 5.1) will be given further consideration.

Once the eligibility criteria are confirmed, evaluators will assess the screened applications according to the criteria listed in (Section 5.2). Evaluators shall be experts in the fields relevant to the applications and may include representatives of Canada and other countries, and representatives of other government and non-government agencies and organizations. If applicable, a multidisciplinary evaluation committee will be formed when applications from several different disciplines are competing in order to provide a uniform final score and ranking of proposals.

Before a final decision is made, the CSA's Program Manager responsible for this AO may seek input and advice from other organizations, including (but not limited to) federal, provincial, territorial and municipal government agencies and organizations.

A review committee will then make an overall selection based on the evaluation scores and other priorities of the Government of Canada and CSA such as, but not limited to, geographic distribution, implication of HQP and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students. Because of a limited availability of funds, we plan on prioritizing projects during the JWST Cycle 1 and ERS call for proposals (NASA/STScI) with Canadian PIs and Co-PIs selected (category A).


In this section

6.1 Available Funding and Duration

Over a maximum period of 2 years, the total maximum funding amount given in grant for each project will be as follows:

Project size as defined in the NASA/STScI Cycle 1 call for proposals:

Category A Maximum Funding:
Projects with Canada based PI/Co-PI.

  1. Small project size: $30,000.
  2. Medium project size: $60,000.
  3. Large project size: $90,000.

Category B Maximum Funding:
Projects with only Canada based Co-I.

  1. Small project size: $10,000.
  2. Medium project size: $15,000.
  3. Large project size: $25,000.

The number of projects under this AO will depend on funding availability. A reminder that only one proposal per project will be accepted. Priority of funding will be given to Category A projects.

While the maximum amounts are explicitly stated, the costs of the project are expected to be modulated according to project complexity, team composition, number of Canadian based team members and observation time. The need for full available funding must be substantiated.

To determine the amount of funding to be allocated, consideration will be given to the availability of CSA funds, the total cost of the project, and the other confirmed sources of funds provided by other stakeholders and the applicant.

Applicants must identify all sources of funding in their applications and confirm this information in a funding agreement if the project is selected for funding. Upon completion of a project, the recipient must also disclose all sources of funding.

The CSA reserves the right to reject any proposals or reduce the amount of the grants or the contributions at its entire discretion.

Approved proposals will be eligible for a total amount of government assistance (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) of up to 100% of total project costs.

6.2 Eligible Costs

Eligible costs are direct expenses that are associated with the delivery of the approved project and that are required to achieve the expected results of the project. Expenses will be covered subject to the applicant signing a funding agreement, in the form of a grant, with the CSA.


Eligible costs for grants under this AO are the following:


In this section

7.1 Payments

The CSA and each successful applicant (the recipient) will sign a funding agreement. This is a condition for any payment made by the CSA with respect to the approved project.

For grant agreements, payments will be made in a lump sum or instalments as described in the signed agreement. Grant funding agreements will include a clause stipulating the recipient's obligation to confirm—once a year in the case of multi-year agreements—their eligibility for the G&C Program – Research Component and inform the CSA in writing of any changes to the conditions used in determining their eligibility for this component.

7.2 Audit

The recipient of a funding agreement shall keep proper records of all documentation related to the funded project, for the duration of the project and for six (6) years after the completion date of the project, in the event of an audit. This documentation shall be available upon request.

7.3 Conflict of Interest

In the funding agreement, the recipient will certify that any current or former public office holder or public servant it employs complies with the provisions of the relevant Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector respectively.

7.4 Intellectual Property

All intellectual property developed by the recipient in the course of the project shall vest in the recipient.

7.5 Organizations in Quebec

An organization in Quebec whose operations are partially or fully funded by the province of Quebec may be subject to the Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif, R.S.Q., Chapter M-30.

Under Sections 3.11 and 3.12 of this Act, certain entities/organizations, as defined in the meaning of the Act, such as municipal bodies, school bodies, or public agencies, must obtain authorization from the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadiennes (SQRC), as indicated by the Act, before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada, its departments or agencies, or a federal public agency.

Consequently, any entity that is subject to the Act is responsible for obtaining such authorization before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada.

Quebec applicants must complete, sign and include the M-30 Supporting Documentation form with their application.

7.6 Performance Measurement

The CSA will ask the recipients to report on certain aspects of their projects such as:

7.7 Open Access Publications

In the event that publications result from the project, the CSA wishes to promote the dissemination of findings that results from the projects it funds as quickly and to the greatest number of people as possible. Improved access to scientific results not only allows scientists to use a broader range of resources and knowledge, but also improves research collaboration and coordination, strengthens citizen engagement and supports the economy.

Thus, the CSA promotes the use of open access publication and archiving by recipients in order to facilitate the widest dissemination of findings that results from its funded projects. Thus, recipients are invited to publish, in a timely matter, their articles by using one of the following methods:

  1. Accessible online repository (institutional or disciplinary) so that the publication is freely accessible.
  2. Journal offering open access to articles.

It should be noted that these two methods are not mutually exclusive and that recipients are encouraged to use both.

Finally, the CSA wishes to receive, as a courtesy, a copy of the publications (if not freely accessible) or the hyperlink (if freely accessible) and its digital object identifier (DOI). These will be use to improve accessibility by including them in the CSA publications directory. Also as a courtesy, the CSA would like to be informed in advance of significant press releases or media interest resulting from the work.


The CSA manages and protects the information provided by the applicant under the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act. By submitting your personal information, you consent to its collection, use and disclosure in accordance with the following Privacy Statement, which explains how the information about the applicant will be processed.

The information is collected under the CSA Class Grants and Contributions Program in Support of Awareness, Research and Learning - Research Component (ASC PPU 045) and Awareness and Learning Component (ASC PPU 040) . This information will be used for administration and application evaluation purposes. Personal information (such as name, contact information and biographical information) will be kept for 6 years and destroyed. According to the Privacy Act, any individual may, upon request,

  1. have access to his or her personal data and
  2. request correction of the incorrect information.

Applicants should also note that information relating to the Funding Agreement could be disclosed publicly in accordance with the laws, policies and directives of the Government of Canada.

For additional information regarding this statement, please contact:

Office of Access to Information and Privacy
Canadian Space Agency
Tel. : 450-926-4866


It is the responsibility of the applicants to obtain clarification of the requirements contained herein, if necessary, before submitting an application.

For any questions related to the AO, applicants shall use the following generic email address ( Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA website in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this AO. The CSA will respond to questions received before 5 p.m. ET on .

At any point, applicants are welcome to share with the CSA their comments or suggestions regarding the AO, the program or the process. Applicants may either use the generic email address ( or the generic web-based Comments and Suggestions Box available at

Question 1: Is it required to include a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for each of the investigators listed on the original proposal selected by STScI with the CSA proposal submission?

Answer 1: No, but a CV should at least be included for the person submitting the proposals and key team members such as the PI, Co-PI(s) and Co-Is directly relevant to the CSA proposal. Note that sufficient information should be provided for a proper evaluation of the team qualification and experience criterion as described in section 5.2 and Appendix A (criterion 3.2).

Question 2: To be eligible, does the "Canada-based astronomer" have to be based in Canada at the time that the JWST proposal was submitted, or at the time that the grant application is awarded?

Answer 2: In order to be eligible, the "Canada-based astronomer" must be based in Canada at the time that the grant agreement is signed with the eligible recipient (Canadian Universities and post-secondary institutions) and during the execution of the project.

Question 3: Would a JWST archive (AR) proposal be an eligible project under this AO?

Answer 3: No, for this AO, only Early Release Science (ERS) and Cycle 1 General Observers (GO) projects will be considered for funding.

Question 4: Are institutional overheads allowable for this AO?

Answer 4: Yes, we confirm that an overhead of up to 20% constitutes an eligible expense under this AO (see section 6.2 Eligible Costs).

Question 5: As the funding program is only two years in duration, it is conceivable that salary support for graduate students would have to occur at least partially beyond the nominal grant duration. Is it possible for the grant recipient to bill the CSA the full grant amount during the nominal window, but spend some of that amount beyond the grant window?

Answer 5: No, the budget for these projects should be planned assuming a two-year duration as described in the AO (see section 6.1). A no-cost extension may be requested to CSA during the second year of execution of the project and approved on a case-by-case basis following an analysis of the justification.

Question 6: I am an adjunct professor at a Canadian university and would like to confirm that this status is sufficient to meet the eligibility requirements for this funding program?

Answer 6: CSA is not imposing conditions on the status of the Principal Investigator (PI) at the eligible institutions sponsoring the proposal (see section 3). Eligible recipients under this AO are Canadian universities and post secondary institutions. We recommend to the PIs to confirm with their institutions if they hold a status allowing them to lead a proposal. If your status doesn’t allow you to be a PI of a CSA grant, it will be acceptable to find an administrative PI, within an eligible institution, that will be responsible for the grant on your behalf. The administrative PI will then sign the application form together with the duly authorized representative from the office of research (university or post-secondary institution). Although preferable, the administrative PI does not have to be listed as a collaborator on the original STScI proposal.

Question 7: In the application form, section 5 asks to list the team members. Does this refer to the team members of this CSA AO proposal or does this refer to the team members of the approved JWST program?

Answer 7: The list refers to team members directly relevant to this CSA AO proposal (also see Question 1).

Question 8: The AO requests the submission of letters from other funding contributors confirming their contributions (if applicable). Does this include funding received by all foreign team members?

Answer 8: No, this only concerns other Canadian sources of funding, if there are any. No funding letters are required from foreign team members. Also, only Canadian sources of funding must be declared in the budget table.

Question 9: The AO does not make a distinction between ERS and GO Cycle 1 programs. Yet, the ERS programs are distinct from GO1 programs in that the ERS programs are required to deliver science-enabling products in addition to the science goals of the program and have no proprietary time (compared to 1-year proprietary time for GO1 programs). Does this AO support the development of science-enabling products for the ERS programs? Does the maximum funding level differ for GO1 and ERS programs of a given project size?

Answer 9: Indeed, this AO does not make any distinction between ERS and GO Cycle 1 programs. The development of science enabling products for the benefit of the JWST community is compatible with the objectives of this AO and thus will be supported. The same funding scheme, according to project size defined by the observing time allocated to a program (see section 6.1), applies to the approved ERS programs for this AO.

Appendix A – Evaluation Criteria Definition, Scale Rating, and Scores

Scoring and weights

A numerical weight is associated with each criterion. Each criterion will be rated on a letter scale from A to E, with A being the highest score. It is strongly recommended that applicants write their proposals by providing information related to each highest score.

There is an overall minimum score of 60 to pass, as well an individual minimum requirements on all criteria individually. The Applicant is advised to read Evaluation Criteria carefully when preparing the proposal.

1. Benefits to Canada


The significance and potential for advancement of scientific knowledge in astronomy relevant to JWST science objectives and how the work is anticipated to enhance Canada's reputation in space astronomy will be assessed on the following:

Scoring - Criterion 1. Benefits to Canada
Criterion not addressed The investigation does not address science objectives of the JWST mission and/or will not contribute to the advancement of new knowledge. (Score: E=0)
Poor The investigation poorly addresses science objectives of the JWST mission and/or will most likely contribute very little to the advancement of new knowledge. (Score: D=5)
Average The investigation addresses science objectives of the JWST mission in a general way and could advance knowledge but is largely derivative of previous work. (Score: C=10)
Good The investigation addresses science objectives of the JWST mission, and the probable results are likely to advance knowledge central to those objectives. The investigation involves novel or original concepts or methods, and/or builds on recent Space Astronomy research advances and offers opportunities for Canadian HQPs leadership. (Score: B=15)
Excellent The investigation fully addresses science objectives of the JWST mission, and the probable results have a wide-ranging, long-term impact beyond the immediate field of study. The proposal is distinguished by highly novel or original concepts or methods, builds on recent Space Astronomy research advances, and is likely to significantly enhance the reputation of Canada in Space Astronomy. It offers many opportunities for Canadian HQPs to take on leadership roles. (Score: A=20)

2. Project Feasibility


2.1 Research methodology

This criterion evaluates the feasibility of the proposed research methodology to meet the proposed research objectives.

Scoring - Criterion 2.1 Research methodology
Criterion not addressed This criterion is not addressed in the proposal (Score: E=0)
Poor The research methodology is poorly defined and/or there is a high likelihood that the research objectives will not be met due to inappropriate methods. (Score: D=4)
Average The research methodology is somewhat defined but details are lacking, and/or, better approaches can be found in the literature to achieve the same objectives. (Score: C=6)
Good The research methodology is defined. Proposed scientific methods and technical approaches are well-understood and have been applied to similar projects as demonstrated by a literature review. There is a some likelihood that the research objectives will be achieved. (Score: B=8)
Excellent The research methodology is well defined. Innovative scientific methods and/or technical approaches are needed and described. A thorough literature review justifies the approaches and their feasibility. There is a high likelihood that the research objectives will be achieved. (Score: A=10)

2.2 Research plan and schedule

This criterion evaluates the appropriateness and feasibility of the research and data analysis plan and of the schedule.

Scoring - Criterion 2.2 Research plan and schedule
Criterion not addressed This criterion is not addressed in the proposal (Score: E=0)
Poor The research plan does not include clear tasks and schedule milestones. (Score: D=12)
Average The research plan appears reasonable, but some relevant information is missing. (Score: C=15)
Good The research plan is defined and includes schedule milestones. (Score: B=18)
Excellent The research plan is well defined with clear tasks for which time allocations for team members are provided, schedule milestones, and traceability to the investigation objectives. (Score: A=20)

3. Resources: Qualification and experience of the PI, Co-PI or Co-I (applicant) applying for the grant as well as the investigation team, and budget justification.


3.1 Qualification and experience of the applicant and investigation team

This criterion evaluates the qualifications and past performance of the applicant and team and roles and responsibilities of each team member in the collaboration.

Scoring - Criterion 3.1 Qualification and experience of the applicant and investigation team
Criterion not addressed This criterion is not addressed in the proposal (Score: E=0)
Poor The applicant has limited or no experience and expertise in the field of study. (Score: D=4)
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=6)
Good The applicant has demonstrated experience in the field of study and in managing similar projects. Any co-investigators (Co-Is) and collaborators included in the proposal have well-defined roles and are critical to the success of the investigation. The applicant or team has some experience with space astronomy missions. (Score: B=8)
Excellent The applicant, research team or collaborators have extensive experience in the field of study, and one or more members is recognized internationally. All Co-Is and collaborators included in the proposal have well-defined roles and are critical to the success of the investigation. The applicant has demonstrated the ability to manage and complete similar projects. The applicant or team has experience in handling data from space observatories. (Score: A=10)

3.2 Budget justification

This criterion evaluates the appropriateness of the budget.

Scoring - Criterion 3.2 Budget justification
Criterion not addressed This criterion is not addressed in the proposal (Score: E=0)
Poor The budget is missing important information or is inappropriate. (Score: D=8)
Average Information is provided to justify the budget, but some details are missing or some budget items appear under- or over-estimated. (Score: C=10)
Good A justified budget is provided which appears appropriate. (Score: B=12)
Excellent The budget is detailed, well justified and appropriate, and gives high confidence in the budget feasibility of the investigation. (Score: A=15)

4. Results: Publication and science dissemination plan


This criterion evaluates the applicant's commitment to sharing data and disseminating results from the proposed investigation based on their JWST data.

Scoring - Criterion 4. Results: Publication and science dissemination plan
Criterion not addressed This criterion is not addressed in the proposal (Score: E=0)
Poor The proposal only includes minimal reference to data sharing or science dissemination. (Score: D=5)
Average The proposal indicates some science analysis results dissemination, but few details are provided. (Score: C=10)
Good The proposal includes a plan to disseminate results from the science analysis results and for science dissemination targeting the scientific community. (Score: B=15)
Excellent The proposal includes an explicit plan to disseminate results from the science analysis results and a well-thought-out and structured scientific publications and science dissemination plan that is likely to raise Canada's profile in Space Astronomy considerably. (Score: A=20)

5. Risk and mitigation strategies – Project risks (financial, managerial, scientific and/or technical) and mitigation strategies.


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, scientific and/or technical, and managerial risks.

Scoring - Criterion 5. Risk and mitigation strategies – Project risks (financial, managerial, scientific and/or technical) and mitigation strategies.
Criterion not addressed This criterion is not addressed in the proposal. (Score: E=0)
Poor The proposal does not identify any key risks or mitigation strategies, or some risks are identified but related mitigation strategies are missing. (Score: D=2)
Average Some, but not all, key risks and their mitigation strategies are defined. (Score: C=3)
Good Key financial, scientific and/or technical, managerial 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, scientific and/or technical, managerial, and their mitigation strategies are well described. The risk evaluation occurrence probability and severity is deemed realistic. (Score: A=5)
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