K2 proposal preparation

There are no guaranteed, or predetermined, targets for any of the fields where K2 is pointing. All targets are proposed by the community through the Guest Observer (GO) program. This page details the program and its aims.

Guest Observer program

Permitted science areas

The K2 GO program welcomes proposals addressing compelling scientific questions in any area of astrophysics and planetary science providing the required observations are amenable to the operational characteristics and constraints of the mission. The science motivation may include, but is not limited to, exoplanet detection, stellar astrophysics, galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, and solar system science.

Proposers must take into account the difference between science that can be achieved exclusively using archived K2 and Kepler data and science that requires new observations by K2. The K2 GO program is specific to the case of science requiring new observations (Campaigns 17-18-19 in the case of K2 GO Cycle 6). Funding for archival science is instead provided through the Astrophysics Data Analysis Program (ADAP; e.g. see ROSES-2017 solicitation). This includes all Kepler data and archived data from K2 Campaigns. All proposals to the K2 GO calls therefore must justify the need for new observational data within their program. However, we welcome proposals that build upon data already collected and programs requiring more data to enhance or complete investigations.

Evaluation criteria

Phase-2 proposals that are submitted via NSPIRES in response the K2 GO Cycle 6 call will be evaluated with respect to the criteria specified in Section C.2 of the NASA Guidebook for Proposers, which are intrinsic merit, relevance to the GO solicitation, and the realism/reasonableness of the proposed work effort and resources. In addition to the factors for intrinsic merit given in the NASA Guidebook for Proposers, intrinsic merit includes the following factors:

  • The suitability of using the K2 observatory and data products for the proposed investigation;
  • The legacy value of the data collected;
  • The degree to which the investigation uses K2’s unique capabilities;
  • The feasibility of accomplishing the objectives of the proposed investigation with the requested observations, including the degree to which the proposal satisfies K2’s observational constraints; and
  • The feasibility and suitability of the proposed analysis techniques.

All Phase-2 proposals are peer-reviewed and ranked by a panel of professional volunteers, followed by ratification from NASA Headquarters. The members of the peer-review panel will not be disclosed. The deliberations of the panel will be disclosed to PIs only after ratification by the selecting official.

Availability of funds

There are typically two categories of K2 GO proposals. They are:

  • Small proposals—proposals using fewer than 1000 targets, with a budget capped at $50,000.
  • Large proposals—proposals using 1000 or more targets, with a budget capped at $150,000. Large proposals must also include the development and dissemination of a value-added community resource product that the proposal will provide at the end of the period of performance of the grant and how that product will be made available to the community.

Funding for selected programs typically starts upon availability of campaign data to the public archive at MAST. Note that there is no exclusive use period associated with any K2 GO data.

In K2 GO Cycle 6, only Phase-2 proposals are considered for funding.


Application to the K2 GO program is typically open to all investigators, including those from outside the U.S. under NASA’s no-exchange-of-funds policy. Investigators who are not affiliated with a U.S. institution are not eligible for funding through this program.

Co-Investigators (Co-Is) affiliated with a U.S. institution are eligible to receive funding under a proposal led by a foreign PI. In this scenario, only a single Co-Investigator per proposal will be considered as a lead PI for funding purposes, and proposals should identify a lead Co-Investigator within the U.S.

In accordance with Public Law 113--76, Division B, Title V, Section 532, NASA cannot support bilateral participation, collaboration, or coordination with China or any Chinese-owned company or entity, whether funded or performed under a no-exchange-of-funds arrangement. See Section III(c) of the ROSES-2017 NRA for more information on these restrictions.

K2 GO Cycle 6 Phase-2 Solicitation

The call for K2 GO Cycle 6 proposals has been released and made available at NSPIRES.

Submission process

K2 proposal submission for GO Cycle 6, which includes Campaigns 17, 18, and 19, is a different process than has been previously been used due to the uncertainty in the estimated spacecraft fuel available.

Target lists and accompanying scientific justifications were due as part of a Phase-1 submission in October 2017. Based on the peer review of these Phase-1 proposals, target lists have been created for all three Campaigns and uploaded to the K2 approved targets & programs page. Proposals may only utilize targets which appear in the Campaign 17, 18, or 19 target lists.

To propose for funding to support scientific investigations of targets selected for observations in Campaigns 17, 18 and/or 19, investigators are required to submit Phase-2 proposals through the NSPIRES website by 23:59 Eastern Time on April 19, 2018. All proposers need to register with NSPIRES in order to submit a Phase-2 proposal. A Phase-1 submission is not mandatory to qualify for Phase-2.

Detailed instructions for submitting a Phase-2 proposal are as follows:

  1. If new to the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System, NSPIRES, register on the NSPIRES website.

  2. Familiarize yourself with the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences Announcement 2017 (ROSES-2017). This document provides an overview of the NRA process and is a compilation of most solicitations within NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

  3. Read the Cycle 6 K2 Research Announcement. New amendments to the NRA are publicized at NSPIRES. Check this page regularly.

  4. Submit a Phase-2 proposal to NSPIRES by 23:59 Eastern Time on April 19, 2018.

  5. Submit an electronic copy of the target tables via e-mail to the GO Office (keplergo@mail.arc.nasa.gov) before the deadline. You must use the target list table format detailed below.

Proposal content

The generic content of the proposal is described in Sec 2.3 of the 2017 NRA Proposers Guide. Page limits and proposal content within the NRA Guide are amended within the K2 GO Cycle 6 NRA and are summarized in the table below. The right-hand column provides page limits for the package elements. Caveats to the page limits are provided as footnotes. The page limits on this website override the NRA-generic limits within the handbook.

The Scientific/Technical/Management section of the Phase-2 proposal, which consists of text, tables (excluding the target table), and figures must not exceed four pages for proposals in the Small category, or six pages for proposals in the Large category. An additional 0.5 pages is allowed in Large proposals to describe progress the proposers have made to delivering value-added community resources. References and the target table do not count against the four or six page limit, however, the completed package uploaded to NSPIRES for the Scientific/Technical/Management section must not exceed 15 pages. If a large target table extends beyond the 15 page limit then truncate the table so that the page limit is not exceeded and make a note within the proposal that the table has been truncated.

Page limits for the PI and Co-I biographies and current and pending support are defined below, and are separate from the 15 page limit for the Scientific/Technical/Management section. PIs should not feel compelled to meet the page limits, but must submit all items appropriate to their proposal and should not exceed the page limits as defined below.

Required Content for Phase-2 Proposals Page Limit
Table of Contents 1
Scientific Justification/Technical/Management Section, "Small" proposals 4
Scientific Justification/Technical/Management Section, "Large" proposals 6
Target Table as needed
References as needed
PI Biography 2
Co-I Biography 1 per Co-I
Current and Pending Support as needed

Includes text, tables, and figures. References and the required target table do not count against these four or six page limits, but the target table should be truncated in cases where it would cause this specific section to exceed 15 pages.
Investigations that have broadly similar goals and team members to selected Cycle 1, Cycle 2, or Cycle 3 proposals may use up to an additional 0.5 pages to describe progress they have made to delivering value-added community resources, but the Scientific/Technical/Management section still must not exceed 15 pages.


  • Although a detailed budget is not requested in Phase-2 proposals, the Phase-2 proposal should include either a statement of work or a table summarizing the work effort. If the statement of work is included in the Scientific/Technical/Management section it will count against the page limit for that section, but a table can be included as a separate section that will not count against the Scientific/Technical/Management section page limit. The statement of work should clearly identify any and all members of the proposing team who would receive funding under the proposed investigation. The funding amounts will be determined formulaically based on target allocation.
  • As part of the NSPIRES submission, the system will request a mandatory Data Management Plan (4000 characters). Proposers are encouraged to explain how the results, data, and source code produced by the investigation will be shared with the public as part of this plan. Guidance on the Data Management Plan requirement can be found at https://go.nasa.gov/ROSESDMP.
  • Large proposals that anticipate delivery of a data product/products to one of the NASA archives (e.g., MAST or the NASA Exoplanet Archive) for curation must also include a letter of acknowledgement from the relevant archive.

Target table format

The targets for K2 Cycle 6 (Campaigns 17-18-19) have already been selected as a result of the peer review of Phase-1 proposals, which were due in October 2017. Nevertheless, Phase-2 proposals must be accompanied by a valid target table which details the targets a proposed program will analyze. It is the proposer's responsibility to ensure that the table only contains pre-selected targets.

An example of a valid target table is shown in the image below. The corresponding .xls file can be downloaded here.

Template Target Table

A definition of each column is included in the below table.

Attribute Description
Object The Ecliptic Plane Input Catalog (EPIC) ID number. This attribute can be determined by using the K2 EPIC Target Search page. The EPIC ID is coupled to celestial coordinates and magnitudes. If the proposed target does not have an EPIC ID number please use a unique identifier, common or catalog name for this source, and supply the J2000 celestial coordinates in the Right Ascension and Declination columns of your target table.
Right Ascension Right Ascension (J2000) of the center of the desired aperture. Celestial coordinates are only required if the target is not listed in the K2 EPIC Target Search page. Adhere to decimal degree format.
Declination Declination (J2000) of the center of the desired aperture. Celestial coordinates are only required if the target is not listed in the K2 EPIC Target Search page. Adhere to decimal degree format.
Kp The apparent magnitude of the target in the Kepler bandpass. The combination of celestial coordinates and magnitude are the primary data required by the Kepler & K2 Science Center to calculate target pixel masks. The Kepler magnitude for most sources can be obtained from the K2 EPIC Target Search page. If no Kepler bandpass magnitude is provided in the EPIC, it can be estimated. If the magnitude entered here is brighter than the EPIC magnitude, then the user-supplied magnitude will be adopted. For highly-variable stars, list the brightest predicted magnitude.
Cadence Mode The observing mode requested. Long cadence (30-minute) mode or Short cadence (1-minute) mode.
δRA Proper motion of the target in units of arcsec per year. This information is optional and should only be provided if the proposer disagrees with the proper motion provided in the EPIC.
δDec Proper motion of the target in units of arcsec per year. This information is optional and should only be provided if the proposer disagrees with the proper motion provided in the EPIC.
Extent The radius of the semi-major axis of an extended target such as a galaxy. To reiterate, this is the radius, NOT the diameter i.e. the furthest distance that structure extends from the target coordinates provided. This column should be ignored if all targets are point sources.
Comments If a target is non-standard, provide a brief description of non-standard table entries including: (a) user-supplied magnitude; (b) user-supplied coordinates; (c) extended sources; (d) the amplitude of highly variable stars, (e) high proper motion stars; (f) custom mask requests. Comments should be expanded upon within the text of the science justification of the proposal.

A blank template target table for insertion into the proposal can be downloaded here.

For GO Cycle 6 Phase-2 proposals that are submitted via NSPIRES in order to request funding, a target table for each campaign must appear in two places:

  1. Embedded within the body of your uploaded proposal package to NSPIRES.
  2. As a separate electronic file submitted directly to the Kepler & K2 GO Office (keplergo@mail.arc.nasa.gov).

Instructions on how to provide both versions of the table are detailed below:

  1. Download the template file written in Microsoft Excel format: K2-Cnn-PINAME.xls
  2. Populate the table using either Microsoft Excel or the freeware OpenOffice package. Insert additional table rows if needed, one per proposed target.
  3. Copy / paste or encapsulate the table into the submission package between the science justification / technical management section and the PI's biography (only required for Phase-2 proposals).
  4. Rename the Excel spreadsheet according the format K2-Cnn-PIname.xls, where PIname is the surname of the PI. A separate target table should be created for each campaign. An example would be "K2-C17-SMITH.xls". If you plan on submitting a second proposal, use "K2-C17-SMITH-2.xls".
  5. Attach the renamed spreadsheet to an email and send it to the GO Office at keplergo@mail.arc.nasa.gov before the proposal deadline.

Campaign 19 DDT targets

A small part of the pixel budget for Campaign 19 remains to be allocated by the project as Director's Discretionary Targets (DDT), which is intended to facilitate observations that address scientific topics missed in the review process of Phase-1 proposals. More information and deadlines are available from the DDT program page. Proposals for targets in Campaign 19 will be reviewed on a rolling basis and are due no later than April 12, 2018.

The target lists for Campaigns 17 and 18 as posted on this website are final and cannot be revised.


  • What are the proposal deadlines?
    Phase-2 proposals for Cycle 6 are due April 19, 2018 by 23:59 Eastern Time.

  • What are the anticipated dates of the campaigns included in the current solicitation?
    Campaign 17: 2018 Mar 01 - May 08
    Campaign 18: 2018 May 12 - Aug 02
    Campaign 19: 2018 Aug 06 - Oct 10
    Start and stop dates for all campaigns are approximate, flexible and could be overtaken by unanticipated operational events or the spacecraft running out of fuel.

  • Should I submit one proposal or two?
    In the interest of efficiency, proposers are requested NOT to provide separate proposals with identical science cases for each of the campaigns. If the same science goals are spread across multiple campaigns, please provide one science justification and up to three target tables, one for each field.

  • How do I select targets to analyze?
    K2 GO Cycle 6 Phase-2 proposals may only use targets that are listed on the K2 approved targets & programs page for Campaigns 17, 18, or 19.

  • What will happen if Kepler runs out of fuel during Campaign 17, 18, or 19?
    We currently expect that all eligible Cycle 6 proposals will be funded, subject to ratification by NASA Headquarters. Proposers may wish to clarify, as part of their proposal, to which degree the scientific objectives can be met using data from Campaigns 17 or 18 alone.

  • What are the coordinates of the M67 superstamp being observed in Campaign 18?
    The core the M67 is being observed in Campaign 18 using a 440-by-440px rectangular superstamp bounded by the following (ra, dec) coordinates: (132.62127, +11.60638), (132.63373 +12.04799), (133.07230 +11.59396), (133.08535 +12.03555).