What happens to my observation before scheduling?


Before an XMM-Newton observation can be released for scheduling, several checks must be completed to ensure that the proposed instrument configuration is safe and is suitable for the proposal scientific goals.

This process is called "Proposal Enhancement". Only after the enhancement process is successfully completed can the XMM-Newton proposals be released for scheduling.

The Principal Investigator (PI) is contacted by the XMM-Newton Science Operation Centre (SOC) shortly after Phase II submission in order to start the enhancement process.

Listed below are the most important features of this process:

  • All approved proposals are enhanced, regardless of their priority.
  • Proposals are enhanced as a whole. Enhancement of a single observation, without simultaneous enhancement of all the other observations contained in the same proposal, is not possible.
  • Triggered and OTAC-approved ToO proposals are also enhanced. The instrumental setup should be defined as much in detail as possible at this stage to minimise delays in the scheduling once the proposal is triggered.
  • Each proposal is evaluated by the XMM-Newton SOC with respect to instrument safety, scientific optimisation and target visibility constraints.
  • The outcome of this analysis is communicated to the proposal PI by the SOC. In case any problem is found, for each identified problem, the SOC provides the PI with suggestions for a possible solution.
  • Further iterations may be needed, until an agreement between the SOC and the PI is reached. As a rule, no XMM-Newton observation can be released for scheduling without agreement from the PI.
  • In the absence of user-defined constraints, the planning of an XMM-Newton observation is ultimately determined by the optimisation of the observing efficiency and potential scientific return.
  • PIs will be immediately informed when their observation has actually been scheduled, typically three to four weeks before the observing date.
  • PIs are encouraged to check the scheduling details, but they should be aware that at this stage changes with respect to what was agreed during the enhancement are only accepted under exceptional circumstances.
  • Potential conflicts arising during the enhancement and/or scheduling processes will be addressed according to the guidelines given in the XMM-Newton Policies and Procedures Document in force for the current Announcement of Opportunity, that has priority over any other rule.

In order to minimise the risk of information losses or errors the following rules must be followed:

  • All correspondence concerning the enhancement or scheduling process must be sent to the following e-mail address

  • Any other communications concerning a proposal (coordinates change requests, coordination of observations, substitute PI nomination, scheduling questions) must also be sent to    xmmpi@sciops.esa.int
  • Each e-mail sent to this account must contain the proposal number in the Subject line.
  • Each e-mail must refer to one and only one, proposal, i.e., PIs requesting a change concerning several of their proposals must submit separate e-mails, one for each proposal.

We appreciate your cooperation, and wish you exciting science with your XMM-Newton observations.

XMM-Newton User Support Group