Director's Discretionary Time (DDT)

Up to 5% of competed MeerKAT telescope time is available for small DDT projects that fall principally into two categories:

  1. Observations that cannot adequately be proposed for through an Open Time Call for Proposals; typically, although not necessarily, these are projects related to transients;

  2. Observations that will likely lead to rapid high impact publications and/or that will assist with specific important South African capacity development outcomes.


DDT proposals can be submitted at any time. Proposals consist of one pdf file not exceeding 3 pages (with text no smaller than 11pt and standard margins), emailed to including/addressing/considering the following items:

  • Proposal title

  • Names of PI and all co-investigators

  • Science case

What is the scientific context for what is being proposed, including observations done at any relevant telescope; what is the specific scientific question being investigated, and how will the proposed observations address it.

  • Technical and time justification

Indicate and justify proposed target(s) with coordinates, band(s), correlator mode(s), visibility integration period, USE backend(s) if relevant, and telescope time (including applicable calibration/slewing overheads).

You should consult the MeerKAT data archive to establish whether public observations exist that could be relevant for your project.

  • Data processing

Indicate how you will process the data expeditiously, including who will do it, how, and using what software/pipelines and hardware. Indicate as well whether your team includes someone that is experienced in using MeerKAT in the requested mode(s).

  • Publication plans

Explicitly indicate the publication plan with a rough time frame, including whether you likely expect a publication even in the event of a null result.

  • Previous DDTs (if relevant)

If any team members have previously obtained MeerKAT DDT time, very briefly indicate the status of all such projects. Ideally this consists only of the relevant publication details.

  • Using USE backends (if relevant)

User Supplied Equipment (USE) capabilities are made available on MeerKAT through a collaboration between SARAO and external teams who largely built and operate those backends. If you intend to use any of those backends (PTUSE/FBFUSE/APSUSE/TUSE), you must first coordinate through their Points of Contact (POCs) indicated below to ensure that the proposing team, as explicitly noted in the proposal, includes someone with the knowledge and availability required to operate the relevant backend.

Note the following additional points:

Observing time

While there is no formal telescope time limit for a DDT proposal, they are typically small. The median/average time for all approved DDT projects is 8/11 hours.

Proprietary periods

By default DDT projects have a 3-month proprietary period, but for transient objects the period may be set to as short as 0 (i.e., data is immediately public), and in exceptional circumstances (e.g., relating to student projects) it may be increased.

Commensal observations with TUSE and BLUSE

The MeerTRAP project ordinarily uses the TUSE backend to do commensal searches for transients with most MeerKAT observing projects. If you believe that this might unduly clash with your science goals and would rather that not be the case, you must justify it in the proposal. Otherwise, TUSE will run commensally for the MeerTRAP team. The same applies to the Breakthrough Listen team using the BLUSE backend.


Any questions regarding MeerKAT DDT opportunities should be addressed to the helpdesk.