Frequently Asked Questions

If your question is not found below, please email your query to salthelp@saao.ac.za. Please include the Proposal Code in the subject of the email for Phase II enquiries.

Phase I: Preparing and planning the proposal

  1. What acquisition overhead time per block should be assumed?
  2. What calibration overheads should be assumed?
  3. I am planning to submit a MOS proposal, but don’t know where to start!
  4. I am planning to submit a Fabry-Perot (FP) proposal, but don’t know where to start!
  5. What is exactly meant by Dark, Grey and Bright Moon at SALT?
  6. Can I use my own target spectrum in the RSS/SALTICAM Simulators?
  7. Can we ask for time from more than one partner? How do we submit a multiple partner proposal?
  8. Can I re-use my Phase I proposal from the previous semester?
  9. Can I import targets from an old proposal?
  10. I’m using the LaTeX template for my scientific rationale. Unfortunately, the columns in the reference section overlap. Can this be avoided?
  11. How can I add figures and table to my science case LaTeX file?
  12. How can I apply different sub-rankings to targets inside my proposal?
  13. I cannot import my saved RSS setup back into the RSS Simulator.

Phase I: Submitting the proposal

  1. Mac OS claims the downloaded dmg file is corrupted. What now?
  2. My proposal submission failed. What should I do?
  3. How do I resubmit my proposal?
  4. I’ve noticed that the SNR in the PIPT-generated PDF differs from the one shown in the HRS Simulator. Why?
  5. Do I have to mark the proposal as final before the Phase I deadline? Do all my Co-investigators also have to approve the proposal before the deadline?
  6. The PIPT doesn’t work as expected. What do I do?
  7. I get an error because a title is missing in the previous proposal information. But I cannot edit the title, nor does updating from the server help. What should I do?
  8. I get an error “Cannot convert element”. What does this mean?
  9. Is there a PIPT version for Windows?
  10. The PIPT can’t connect to the server. Is this because I’m using a proxy to connect to the internet?
  11. I tried everything but still can’t connect to the server! How can I submit my proposal?
  12. When trying to login I get the error “peer not authenticated”. Why is that?
  13. Whenever I create a new investigator, the PIPT tells me “there exists no SALT partners information on your disk, it will be downloaded now”.
  14. When submitting the proposal the PIPT gets stuck at the checking against catalogue values stage and the cancel button isn’t working. How do I submit my proposal?
  15. I get the following error when trying to submit my proposal: Missing parameter asyncCode for call of method sendProposal. What can I do?
  16. When saving my proposal I get the cryptic error “Adding text to an XML document must not be null.” What do I do?
  17. I clicked on the Instrument Configuration part in a tree menu of the PIPT and nothing happens. What am I doing wrong?
  18. Launching the Visibility Tool from the PIPT means I can’t change the coordinates, even if I choose a new target. Why?
  19. How do I add an institute in the PIPT?
  20. Can I import my targets from a file? There are too many of them to be added manually!

Phase II

  1. When is the Phase II deadline?
  2. I have a ToO proposal and I do not yet know my target(s). Do I need to prepare a phase II by the deadline?
  3. My targets will only become visible later in the semester. Do I really have to submit my proposal now?
  4. First things first – How do I get started on Phase II?
  5. What’s new for the 2014-1 semester?
  6. What’s the current instrument status?
  7. Is there a tool for creating my finder charts?
  8. How do I resubmit my proposal?
  9. I need help preparing MOS observations.
  10. What can and can’t change between Phase I and II?
  11. Do I need to specify FLAT and ARC configs in the PIPT?
  12. Is there any information on the website regarding dither patterns?
  13. I cannot find any dither information for my proposal in the Web Manager. Where is it?
  14. I’ve downloaded the dmg file for the PIPT on my Mac and tried to launch the PIPT from it, but I only get an error claiming that ‘PIPT’ is corrupt and cannot be opened. Is that true?
  15. When trying to submit my proposal, the PIPT gets stuck in the submission dialog at some stage. Why?
  16. I get an error ‘Cannot convert element’. What does this mean?
  17. I get the following error when trying to submit my proposal: Missing parameter asyncCode for call of method sendProposal. What can I do?
  18. I get a strange error when submitting. What can I do?
  19. Can I reuse a proposal from a previous semester?
  20. Can I copy blocks or instrument configurations from another proposal?
  21. Can I use the PIPT with a proxy?
  22. When validating my proposal, I’m told that a ‘Wait’ element is ill-position or missing. Why?
  23. The Web Manager claims I have changed a target in Phase II, although I haven’t. Why?
  24. Why is the GUI wonky after upgrading to Mac OS El Capitan?
  25. The requested times shown in the PIPT are wrong. Why?
  26. When submitting, I get an error that some of my blocks have changed. What does that mean?
  27. I opened my multi-semester proposal in the beta version of PIPT, and now all of my blocks and targets seem to be gone. What has happened?
  28. Where can I find more answers?

Phase I: Preparing and planning the proposal


1. What acquisition overhead time per block should be assumed?

  • RSS MOS mode: 900 seconds
  • BVIT: 1500 seconds
  • Everything else: 600 seconds
  • How you can help us: Provide high quality finder charts and notes for observers in Phase II.

2. What calibration overheads should be assumed?

Please see the table in the Phase I document available here.

The best way to calculate these is to prepare an example block with the PIPT in a dummy Phase II program. Select the block in the left hand panel list and then press the ‘Clock’ icon in the PIPT button bar. The total block time is then shown in the ‘Total charged time:’ value for the Block.

3. I am planning to submit a MOS proposal, but don’t know where to start!

Please see our dedicated MOS page.

All MOS specific FAQ questions may be found there as well.

4. I am planning to submit a Fabry-Perot (FP) proposal, but don’t know where to start!

Please see our dedicated FP page.

All FP specific FAQ questions may be found there as well.

5. What is exactly meant by Dark, Grey and Bright Moon at SALT?

  1. Dark: A lunar illumination fraction of < 15% or Moon below horizon.
  2. Grey: An illumination fraction between 15% and 85%.
  3. Bright: An illumination fraction > 85%.

Note that you can now further constrain these definitions in the PIPT (e.g. by setting a stricter fraction of 50% in Grey time). Loosening the conditions is not usually allowed (see the Phase II FAQ). But note that this will reduce the chances of your block being observed. A similar constraint on a target’s angular distance from the Moon can also be made.

The plot below (click to enlarge) shows the sky brightness in U, B and I for a lunar elongation of 90 degrees as a function of the lunar phase angle. The percentages in its legend refer to the illuminated fraction of the lunar disk.

6. Can I use my own target spectrum in the RSS/SALTICAM Simulators?

Yes. When adding a target select ‘User supplied’ from the list and load up your ASCII file containing the spectrum.

The file format must have two columns

  1. First column: Wavelength in Angstroms
  2. Second column: Flux in NORMAL UNITS – followup with Christian…

Lines may be commented out with ‘#’ and the flux is assumed to be zero outside the wavelength range covered by the spectrum.

7. Can we ask for time from more than one partner? How do we submit a multiple partner proposal?

Yes, multiple partner proposals are allowed. In this case the PI only has to submit the proposal once using the PIPT.

The PI chooses in the PIPT how the time is split up amongst separate partners – e.g. 50%/50%, 25%/75%, 100%/0%, or any other that equals 100%.The proposal is then submitted to all the relevant TACs automatically.

8. Can I re-use my Phase I proposal from the previous semester?

You’ll have to create and submit a new proposal, which may be a copy of the old one.

If you still have the Phase 1 proposal on your computer, you may import it and clone it (using ‘Proposal -> Clone’). Add your changes to the cloned proposal (i.e. the one with the proposal code “Unsubmitted-nnn”) and submit it.

If you can’t find the proposal, you may use the menu item “Online->Import from Database…” to import it, and before editing it make sure to clone the proposal (as outlined above).

9. Can I import targets from an old proposal?

Yes! You can export target lists from previous proposals using the ‘File->Export Target Data’ menu item (see above for how to import a previous proposal).

To import the new target list, in the navigation tree for your new proposal click on the Targets node of the proposal. The targets form will appear which contains tables for mandatory and optional targets. Underneath both tables you can find the ‘Add Targets From File” button to import your target list.

10. I’m using the LaTeX template for my scientific rationale. Unfortunately, the columns in the reference section overlap. Can this be avoided?

Please use the latest saltproposal.cls file from the Phase I instructions page.

11. How can I add figures and table to my science case LaTeX file?

Unfortunately you can’t use the floating figure or table environments.

You can however use the ‘\includegraphics’ command for images or the tabular environment for tables. Both can be centered with the center environment, but there’s no easy way to create a caption.

If you want to add a caption, you may want to try adding it to the bottom of your figure manually.

12. How can I apply different sub-rankings to targets inside my proposal?

This is only required for Phase II.

Note that the TAC assigns scientific priorities, whereas rankings allow you to prioritise within your allocated time what targets you would like observed first (e.g. if you have a list of similar targets).

13. I cannot import my saved RSS setup back into the RSS Simulator.

Please use the latest version of the RSS Simulator.

Phase I: Submitting the proposal

Firstly, please make sure you’re using the latest version of the PIPT.


14. Mac OS claims the downloaded dmg file is corrupted. What now?

This error may be caused by the security settings. Try opening the Security & Privacy pane in your systems preferences and make sure that the option “Mac App Store and identified developers” (or, for the RSMT, “Any”) is chosen for “Allow applications downloaded from”, as shown below.

 

You may revert to your original choice once the application is installed.

If opening the dmg still fails, choose the “Any” option instead of “Mac App Store and identified developers”.

In macOS Sierra the “Any” option has been removed from the settings pane, but you can disable the security assessment system by executing the following command in a terminal::

sudo spctl --master-disable

You might consider re-enabling the security assessment system when you are done with the dmg file:

sudo spctl --master-enable

15. My proposal submission failed. What should I do?

If you understand the error message, correct the problem and try again.

If you get “Adding text to an XML document must not be null”, your submission probably worked. In that case, you should have a confirmation email and your proposal should be visible in the Web Manager. If not, please contact salthelp@saao.ac.za before making a resubmission of your proposal.

In all other cases, please select your proposal and choose File->Export as zip file. Please send that zip file to salthelp@saao.ac.za and indicate whether you want us to submit the proposal for you in your email.

16. How do I resubmit my proposal?

Just submit the proposal again from the PIPT. As of version 3.1 of the PIPT there should be no need for unfinalizing the proposal before resubmitting it.

17. I’ve noticed that the SNR in the PIPT-generated PDF differs from the one shown in the HRS Simulator. Why?

You are probably using version 1.0.2 of the HRS Simulator. As of version 1.0.3, the sky background is handled better, and the PIPT is using this improved SNR calculation.

18. Do I have to mark the proposal as final before the Phase I deadline? Do all my Co-investigators also have to approve the proposal before the deadline?

Yes. No.

The proposal must be marked as final before the deadline, otherwise it will NOT be forwarded to the TACs.

Finalise your proposal in two ways:

  1. When submitting using the PIPT, or
  2. In the Web Manager that allows PIs to finalise or unfinalise their proposal.

It is not essential for Co-Is to approve the proposal before the deadline. However, we recommend them all to approve it soon after (before the TACs start assessing proposals).

19. The PIPT doesn’t work as expected. What do I do?

Please make sure that you are running Java 6 or higher on your computer. It may be that you have several versions installed and that an older one is the default.

If you are running Java 6, try saving your changes and restarting the PIPT. This usually solves most issues with some luck.

If that still doesn’t help, please email salthelp@saao.ac.za with full details of your problem, including any error messages. You may also want to attach a zip file of your proposal (select your proposal and choose File->Export as zip ).

20. I get an error because a title is missing in the previous proposal information. But I cannot edit the title, nor does updating from the server help. What should I do?

Updating from the server presumably doesn’t work as you aren’t the PI of the proposal you are editing. You may download version 3.0.1 (or higher) of the PIPT, which lets you submit without providing a title.

21. I get an error “Cannot convert element”. What does this mean?

It usually means that there is a more recent version of the PIPT. Please have a look at https://www.salt.ac.za/wm and upgrade your PIPT.

22. Is there a PIPT version for Windows?

We are actively working on providing a better supported Windows version. Please see the PIPT page for the latest available information.

23. The PIPT can’t connect to the server. Is this because I’m using a proxy to connect to the internet?

Yes. Please set the proxy address and username/password (if applicable) in the PIPT preferences. This usually works except perhaps for authenticated proxies. In this case please contact your Local IT support.

24. I tried everything but still can’t connect to the server! How can I submit my proposal?

Select your proposal and choose File->Export as zip file. Please send that zip file to salthelp@saao.ac.za. (Please make sure it is validated in the PIPT before sending it to us).

25. When trying to login I get the error “peer not authenticated”. Why is that?

This seems to be related to an SSL issue with the Open JDK. Please make sure you are using Sun Java.

Check your version by running in a terminal: java -version

26. Whenever I create a new investigator, the PIPT tells me “there exists no SALT partners information on your disk, it will be downloaded now”.

You may have no connection to the server.

A workaround is to quit PIPT, then make a subfolder in ~/.PIPT called DatabaseInfo and to download the partner information as ~/.PIPT/DatabaseInfo/Partners.txt (using UTF8 as the encoding). Relaunch the PIPT.

27. When submitting the proposal the PIPT gets stuck at the checking against catalogue values stage and the cancel button isn’t working. How do I submit my proposal?

Make sure you are using version 3.1 or higher of the PIPT. If that is the case,
select your proposal and choose File->Export as zip file. Please send that zip file to salthelp@saao.ac.za.

28. I get the following error when trying to submit my proposal: Missing parameter asyncCode for call of method sendProposal. What can I do?

Please check that you are using version 3.1 or later of the PIPT. If that is the case, contact salthelp@saao.ac.za.

29. When saving my proposal I get the cryptic error “Adding text to an XML document must not be null.” What do I do?

This error is often caused by generic target names like J150542-011754.

If changing target names doesn’t help, using the menu item ‘Proposal->Validate’, then copy and paste the XML into a text editor of your choice. Email this file to salthelp@saao.ac.za.

30. I clicked on the Instrument Configuration part in a tree menu of the PIPT and nothing happens. What am I doing wrong?

This is a bug. Try quitting and restarting the PIPT, remembering to save your changes first.

31. Launching the Visibility Tool from the PIPT means I can’t change the coordinates, even if I choose a new target. Why?

This is a bug that is best avoided using the stand-alone version of the Visibility Tool.

32. How do I add an institute in the PIPT?

At the bottom of the Investigator form, you can find a link ‘Add institute for partner “Other”‘. Click on this link and fill in the form which opens. Hitting the “OK” button of this form will submit your new institute.

If you don’t get an error message, you should assume that the institute has been added. Click on the link “Update partner information” to let the PIPT know about the change.

If you run into problems, please send the full institute details (name, department (optional), URL, address) to salthelp@saao.ac.za and we’ll add the institute for you.

33. Can I import my targets from a file? There are too many of them to be added manually!

Yes. In the Targets form in the PIPT there is a “Import Targets from File” button underneath the tables of mandatory and optional targets.

Please see this PDF document for an outline of the required file format and examples.

Recently added target properties (Moon, rank, observing time) may also be specified in the file.

Phase II


1. When is the Phase II deadline?

Please see the call for proposals document.

2. I have a ToO proposal and I do not yet know my target(s). Do I need to prepare a phase II by the deadline?

Yes. Please use a “Dummy” target in your proposal and prepare and submit your phase II using this target, getting the instrument setups as close to the final setup as you possibly can. It will then be a trivial matter to replace the Dummy target in your block with the real target when you’re ready to trigger, and the SAs won’t have so many checks to do at the last minute.

3. My targets will only become visible later in the semester. Do I really have to submit my proposal now?

As of 2013-1, yes, it is now a hard deadline. This is to help us plan out the semester better.

4. First things first – How do I get started on Phase II?

Make sure you have the latest PIPT installed and launch it.

If your Phase I isn’t already visible in the PIPT, import it by using the menu item Online > Import from Database.

Use the menu item Online > Convert to Phase 2.

5. What’s new for the current semester?

Please see the call for proposals document.

6. What’s the current instrument status?

Please see the instrument availability page.

7. Is there a tool for creating my finder charts?

Yes, there’s an online finder chart generator created by Tim.

8. How do I resubmit my proposal?

Just submit the proposal again from the PIPT. As of version 3.1 of the PIPT there should be no need for unfinalizing the proposal before resubmitting it.

9. I need help preparing MOS observations.

Please see the separate MOS FAQ on the dedicated MOS page.

10. What can and can’t change between Phase I and II?

  1. If additional targets are necessary, please send your request to the SALT Science Directory, David Buckley, for consideration.
  2. You cannot use more time than the TAC allocated.
  3. You cannot use tighter observing conditions than requested in Phase I. This includes seeing, moon phase and sky transparency. You may, of course, loosen these conditions to improve the chance of your observation being taken.
  4. Any significant change in the instrumentation requirements or science aims needs to be approved by the SALT Science Director, David Buckley.

11. Do I need to specify FLAT and ARC configs in the PIPT?

The essential thing is to add the flats and arcs in your RSS config if you want them, as well as their frequency. The config details don’t matter too much, as we handle them on our end. If you want to know more contact your liason SA.

12. Is there any information on the website regarding dither patterns?

Yes, the SALT dither patterns are explained in our dither patterns page.

13. I cannot find any dither information for my proposal in the Web Manager. Where is it?

If you go to an observation section, one of the table columns is “Configs”, which is divided into a “Constraints” and a “Payloads” column. The Payloads column contains a link (such as “4 configs”), and if you hover over that link you’ll get a popup, which includes the dither information.

14. I’ve downloaded the dmg file for the PIPT on my Mac and tried to launch the PIPT from it, but I only get an error claiming that ‘PIPT’ is corrupt and cannot be opened. Is that true?

No, it isn’t. You are probably running Mac OS Mountain Lion with restrictive security settings, which causes the problem. Here is what to do:

  1. Go to your system preferences.
  2. Click on the “Security & Privacy” icon.
  3. Select the “General” tab.
  4. If necessary, click on the little padlock icon at the bottom to enable changes.
  5. Under “Allow applications downloaded from” choose “Anywhere”.

You should then be able to launch the PIPT.

15. When trying to submit my proposal, the PIPT gets stuck in the submission dialog at some stage. Why?

Presumably your proposal is very large and you run into memory problems. When using the jar version, you can try to increase the available memory by launching the jar file with the -Xms and -Xmx flag.

An example would be: java -Xms85m -Xmx512m -jar PIPT.jar

-Xms sets the memory when starting, -Xmx the maximum memory

If all else fails, please send an email to salthelp.

16. I get an error ‘Cannot convert element’. What does this mean?

It usually means that there is a more recent version of the PIPT. Please have a look at https://www.salt.ac.za/wm and upgrade your PIPT.

17. I get the following error when trying to submit my proposal: Missing parameter asyncCode for call of method sendProposal. What can I do?

Please check that you are using version 3.1 or later of the PIPT. If that is the case, contact salthelp@saao.ac.za.

18. I get a strange error when submitting. What can I do?

If you cannot make heads or tails of an error you get during submission, please contact salthelp@saao.ac.za for help.

However, in case you get the error shown in the screenshot below, your submission presumably has been successful and you should check in the Web Manager whether that’s the case.

19. Can I reuse a proposal from a previous semester?

No. However, you can copy blocks or instrument configurations from your previous proposal (see the following question).

20. Can I copy blocks or instrument configurations from another proposal?

Yes. Since PIPT 2.8 you can copy multiple blocks, targets and instrument configurations between proposals.

How to copy blocks:

  1. Add the blocks to the clipboard. You can add individual blocks by right-clicking on their node in the navigation tree and choosing the respective item from the popup menu.
  2. If you have many blocks, the best strategy might be to right-click on the Blocks node in the navigation tree and to choose the item Add all blocks to clipboard item. See the next step how to drop some of these if you only want to copy a subset.
  3. You may have a look at the clipboard by using the menu item Clipboard > Show clipboard. This allows you to remove some blocks from the clipboard.
  4. Now in the navigation tree right-click on the Blocks node to which you want to add the blocks. Choose Add > N new Blocks from clipboard from the popup menu.
  5. And that’s it. Targets and instrument configurations can be copied in a similar manner.

Two Caveats:

  1. The observing times shown in the Blocks table might not be correct after adding the blocks. Go to one of the blocks and press Cmd-T; that seems to help. Alternatively, saving, quitting and relaunching the PIPT should do the trick.
  2. If you are using an observation or instrument configuration more than once in the copied blocks, a separate copy will be created for each use. (No duplicate targets will be created, however.)

21. Can I use the PIPT with a proxy?

You possibly can. Here is what to do:

  1. Find the Preferences item in the menu and select it (On a Mac it’s in the PiptManager menu, otherwise it’s in the Edit menu.)
  2. Select the Proxy tab in the preferences window.
  3. Provide the proxy URL and select whether your proxy uses authentication.
  4. Unfortunately, the PIPT doesn’t work with all proxies. Local IT support at your institution may be able to help resolve proxy issues.

22. When validating my proposal, I’m told that a ‘Wait’ element is ill-position or missing. Why?

This simply means that you have specified no value for the time between visits for your blocks. This can be done in the block form. If you have only one visit for a block, specifying the value 0 for that time is fine.

23. The Web Manager claims I have changed a target in Phase II, although I haven’t. Why?

It may be that during the import and resubmission of your proposal a small change in your target coordinates crept in. So you may want to check your target coordinates. Otherwise contact salthelp@saao.ac.za.

24. Why is the GUI wonky after upgrading to Mac OS El Capitan?

It seems that there are problems with Java 6. Please use the latest Java version, which you can download from Oracle’s Java page.

25. The requested times shown in the PIPT are wrong. Why?

There might be two reasons why the times seem to be wrong:

  1. If your proposal is a multi-semester proposal, the number of visits you request are for the current semester, irrespective of observations in other  semesters. For example, if you are requesting 5 visits for a block in 2017-2 and it has been observed twice in 2017-1, you are requesting and will be be charged for 5 (not 3) visits.
  2. Some blocks which have been observed already are not included in your proposal any longer. These are still accounted for when the requested time is calculated. Note that by copying a block you are creating a new block, even if you retain the old name.

26. When submitting, I get an error that some of my blocks have changed. What does that mean?

Once a block has been observed, it must not be changed any longer. (You may update finding charts, though.) So if you make changes and get this error, you will have to create a copy of your block (and delete the old one). Remember that you will have to adjust the number of visits if the block has been observed already.

Please export your proposal as a zip file and send it to salthelp@salt.ac.za if you feel that the error is incorrect as nothing has changed.

27. I opened my multi-semester proposal in the beta version of PIPT, and now all of my blocks and targets seem to be gone. What has happened?

The blocks and targets presumably are still there, so please don’t panic. You probably changed the semester in the old PIPT, but didn’t update the time allocations. Please contact salthelp@salt.ac.za for assistance.

28. Where can I find more answers?

The Phase I FAQ contains more information. Otherwise contact salthelp@saao.ac.za.