Science Highlight




ALMA Cycle 0 Proposal Review Process: current status July 12

Submission of proposals for ALMA Early Science Cycle 0 closed on June 30. The astronomical community responded enthusiastically to the first ever ALMA Call for Proposals: 919 unique proposals were received. Their distribution across the four ALMA science categories is as follows:

  1. Cosmology and the high redshift universe: 20%;
  2. Galaxies and galactic nuclei: 27%;
  3. ISM, star formation/protoplanetary disks and their astrochemistry, exoplanets: 40%;
  4. Stellar evolution, the Sun and the solar system: 13%.


These proposals will be assessed by 8 ALMA Review Panels (ARP). Each ARP is composed of 6 Scientific Assessors (7 for Category 4) whose combined expertise covers the range of topics relevant to one of the four scientific categories. There are two ARPs for each of Categories 1 and 2, three for Category 3, and one for Category 4. The Chair and the Deputy Chair of each ARP will serve on the ALMA Proposal Review Committee (APRC). The APRC Chair does not belong to any ARP. Hence the total number of Science Assessors contributing to the Cycle 0 Proposal Review Process is 50. The APRC and ARP members are listed below.
The proposals were made available to the Scientific Assessors on July 9. The review process consists of two stages. At Stage 1, each proposal is assigned to four members of one of the ARPs of its science category, who must give it a score. The four individual scores are combined to compute a mean preliminary score. The scores and other input from the assessors will be used to identify the proposals that will proceed to Stage 2 – discussion at face-to-face ARP meetings. Each ARP will discuss approximately 100 proposals.

Staff of the Joint ALMA Observatory and of the ALMA Regional Centers will carry out the technical assessments of all proposals to be discussed at Stage 2. The outcome of the technical assessment will be made available to the ARPs, for their reference.

The 50 science assessors will participate in face-to-face meetings of their ARP in Santiago from August 15 to 17 to discuss the proposals.
All proposals will be assigned one of four letter grades A to D:

  • Grade A: highest priority proposals.
  • Grade B: high priority proposals, which will be scheduled at a lower priority than grade A proposals.
  • Grade C: scientifically fruitful proposals, which will be observed as filler projects, only if a higher grade proposal is not available for the current conditions.
  • Grade D: proposals that shall not be observed.


After the individual ARPs have met, the APRC members will meet face-to-face on August 18 and 19, to review the ARP results and determine the final assessments across the entire set of ALMA proposals and to prepare the final recommendations.

The Principal Investigator of each proposal will be informed of the assigned grade and will receive a “consensus report” summarizing the scientific assessment of the proposal and key findings relating to any technical problems that have been identified. We intend to send these notifications in early September.