Announcement of Opportunity for
Interdisciplinary Scientists and Guest Investigators
in the BepiColombo mission

Questions and Answers


Updated: 2 July 2019

Q1: Does the minimum effort of 0.2 FTE refer to the three-year duration of the appointment or is it per year?

A1: The 0.2 FTE minimum effort is per year.


Q2: Since the initial appointment period is three-years (namely until October 2022, assuming appointment in October 2019) should the proposal only cover science that can be performed during this period?

A2: The proposed programme can be for any part (or parts) of the BepiColombo mission, e.g., cruise phase and/or flybys and/or operations in orbit at Mercury. The selected candidates are expected to work on the preparation of their programme and to be in regular contact with the BepiColombo team and the instrument PIs for that purpose.


Q3: Is the intention to reappoint the Guest Investigators for the duration of the mission, and if so, should the proposal address science activities that pertain to both the flyby and orbital phases of the mission?

A3: When the three-year appointment is drawing to a close there will be an evaluation (taking account of the objectives declared in the proposal, the annual reports, and the overall contribution to the BepiColombo mission) and the appointment may as a result be extended for an additional period.

See also A2.


Q4: What is the expected role of GIs before orbital insertion?

A4: The selected GIs will be involved during the coming years in planning observations and/or other preparatory activities (such as, modelling) to achieve the goals of their proposals and to best prepare for the data exploitation in relation to the proposed scientific case(s).


Q5: Is it possible to include collaborators in the Letter of Intent and/or proposal?

A5: The IDS or GI can share data with collaborators under their direct supervision, i.e. master students, PhD students. In these cases, the IDS or GI takes full responsibility for his/her collaborators.

Independent collaborators, e.g. scientific colleagues from the institute, post-docs, etc., have no direct access to the data. If such a data access is requested for an IDS (not for GIs), the names and data access must be detailed in the proposal. GIs are expected to work as individuals and it is not foreseen that they share data with other scientific collaborators.


Q6: May individuals be named on several proposals as collaborators?

A6: In principle, there is no restriction to the number of proposals on which someone may be named.


Q7: May IDS proposals include BepiColombo project scientists as collaborators?

A7: No, project scientists may not be listed as collaborators on IDS proposals.


Q8: If my proposal requires data from one element of an instrument suite is my point of contact the PI for the instrument suite or is it the Co-PI responsible for that specific element?

A8: The point of contact is the instrument PI as indicated in the AO document. The instrument PI will involve the Co-PIs as necessary.


Q9: It is stated in the AO that IDSs are required to attend SWT meetings. Are GIs also invited to attend these meeting?

A9: In general, the GIs are invited – as are all Co-Investigators – to participate in the SWT meetings, but not in the SWT Executive sessions.


Q10: Are there any possibilities for successful applicants to receive funding support to attend the science working team meetings?

A10: As indicated in the AO document, the applicants will have to seek financial support from their institution and/or funding agency. Note that a Letter of Endorsement (with explicit support with respect to the proposed activities and the availability of funding, facilities, and infrastructure) is expected to be submitted as part of the proposal documentation.


Q11: May IDS proposals include PIs/Co-PIs as collaborators?

A11: The answer is no; in fact, the cooperation between PIs, CoPIs and selected IDSs should be part of the activities internal to the SWT.


Q12: Should references be included in the 10 page proposal limit or are they counted separately, hence not included in the page limit?

A12: The references do not count against the 10 pages of the proposal as described in section 4 of the AO document.


Q13: Are there any constraints on page margins or line spacing?

A13: There are no other requirements about the formatting in addition to those indicated in section 4 of the AO document, but any formatting should allow for easy reading of the document.


Q14: Should a work plan be presented justifying the level of FTE task per task, month by month?

A14: The content of the proposal should cover the information requested in Section 4 of the AO document - details on the structure of the proposal are left to the candidate. A month by month planning is not requested.


Q15: Should a budget narrative be included?

A15: ESA does not require a budget plan. 


Q16: Should a data management plan be included?

A16: A data management plan could be included for completeness; this would be counted within the proposal page limit.


Q17: Is the minimum 0.2 FTE requirement set on the average FTE level?

A17: 0.2 FTE per year is the minimum effort required.


Q18: Are other similar calls expected to be published in the future for Interdisciplinary Scientists (IDSs)/Guest Investigators (GIs) in the BepiColombo mission?

A18: As indicated in the call (Section 1.1) additional calls, in particular for Guest Investigator positions, will be foreseen at a later stage of the mission.


Q19: Do all collaborators of IDS applicant need to submit their LoEs? Or only the applicant needs to submit?

A19: The IDS or GI appointment is ad personam. As a consequence, the selected candidate is responsible for the execution of all the proposed activities and must ensure proper support; therefore the LoI is required only for the proposer.


Q 20: Could you please let me know whether it is fine to skip "A description of the scientific expertise relevant to the BepiColombo science objectives described in [AO-D1]” in the proposal and instead include a sentence that these are irrelevant for my GI proposal for science based on data acquired during the cruise phase?

A 20: As it is reported in Section 1.3 of the AO, "Proposers for GI positions can include or focus on the use of data collected during the cruise phase, e.g., in relation to Venus fly-bys.”

If your GI proposal is focused on science during the cruise phase, you will have to focus that section of your proposal on a description of your scientific expertise relevant to the achievement of your science objectives.