Submitting a proposal

Instructions for submitting a request for Director’s Discretionary Time can be found here.


The 2023 Open Call for Proposals is now CLOSED.

The next call is expected to be issued in mid-March 2024 with deadline six weeks later.


All proposals must be submitted using the MeerKAT Proposal Submission System (PSS). Prior to submitting a proposal, please ensure that you have done the following at the preparation stage:

  1. Read the MeerKAT Call for Observing Proposals and followed its relevant guidelines.

  2. Familiarised yourself with large active/previous MeerKAT projects and searched the MeerKAT archive, to ensure that your proposed science case and/or targets do not unduly overlap with active projects; it’s also possible that the data or data products you require for your science are already publicly available on our archive or repository of data releases.

  3. Performed sensitivity calculations to support the time request for your proposed observations.

  4. Simulated your observations using the Observation Planning Tool if you are uncertain about the overheads.

  5. Contacted the relevant leads if requesting beamformed observations on User Supplied Equipment.


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  • Ability to clone previous proposals

  • Ability to revise a submitted proposal before the deadline (done by clicking the revise button inside the submitted proposal)

  • Autosave (performed every two minutes)


Team Page

  • Submitter and PI now combined (Submitter no longer exists as a separate team member)

  • Question added to ask if the Technical Lead is experienced using MeerKAT data


Science Page

  • Solar/Stellar Science Category added

  • Pulsar & Fast Transients Observation Category added

  • “Proposal Type Category” field added (Regular, Large, Multi-year, Large & Multi-year)

  • “Pilot Studies for Large Proposals” field added, and required if Large proposal

  • Science Case PDF allowed to be 4 pages if Large Proposal


Target Page

  • Time on Target (seconds) field added for each target

  • Total Time on Target(s) is given at the bottom of the table. Oversubscription is indicated in red if total greater than 500 hr for the current cycle, although this does not prevent submission


Observation Page

  • “Observation Type” field added (Beamformed and/or Imaging)

  • USE fields added, if Beamformed is selected

  • Band selection field has changed requiring more information per band

  • S-band is now offered, limited to 16 hrs


Data Management Page

  • Supercomputing center now has a dropdown selection for the name “IDIA/Ilifu”

  • Data Transfer Mode for LTO tape now includes version 9

  • Added an option for User Supplied Equipment


Submit Page

  • Additional Information is required if Beamformed Observation Type is selected

Starting a new submission

Log into the MeerKAT Proposal Submission System homepage using your SARAO account credentials and click + New proposal and select the latest Call (“Batch”). First-time users should read the Getting a SARAO account page.

Click on ‘New proposal’ to start a new submission.

A PI can clone a proposal on which they were previously the PI, if the coversheets are largely unchanged.


Sessions that are left unattended for approximately 30 minutes will expire, requiring you to log in again. To log out, click on the user icon (top right) to access the menu.

The draft will be saved when pressing the save button, on every page transition (change pages), and every 2 minutes (if unsaved changes exist).

There are 6 sections to each submission which you will be able to arrive at by clicking on the numbered icon (“breadcrumb“) at the top.

Navigation bar for the PSS. Icons will turn green once all compulsory fields have been completed.


Use the ‘Back’ and ‘Next’ buttons to move sequentially back and forth through the form, or click directly on the section numbers to jump to a section.

You do not need to fill in the sections in the suggested order, but you must fill all sections before you will be able to submit. You will be prompted to complete these before you are able to submit the proposal.

You will not be able to submit the proposal until all necessary fields are completed.

Icons in the top right corner correspond to: Save draft, delete the proposal, go to this help page, send feedback, and exit the form.

Exiting the form will send you back to your list of proposals on the PSS. You can continue editing your draft proposal at any time prior to the submission deadline, and can put the proposal into “revise" state prior to the submission deadline. If you reopen a submitted proposal for editing, you must resubmit it even if you’ve made no changes - otherwise the previously submitted proposal will remain in an edit/incomplete state!

Send feedback and bug reports

Should you encounter any issue, you can send the software team direct feedback from within the form by clicking on the speech bubble icon. This will automatically capture all details of your form in order to help them debug.

Team details

Input the names, email addresses, affiliations and countries of all the members of the project. This includes the Principal Investigator*, all Co-investigators* and the Technical Lead*. As relevant also indicate whether the proposal is a core component of a PhD thesis.

Only the Principal Investigator can submit the proposal. The form will autofill using their details provided on registration.

The team details page.


Provide details of your project:

  • Abstract (no more than 250 words).

  • Scientific categories (no more than three), and observation category. This helps allocate scientific reviewers to proposals.

  • Observation category. This helps during science as well as feasibility reviews.

    • Spectral line: Includes both 32K wideband as well as narrowband modes. While we understand that many observations will also make use of the continuum data for supporting or commensal science, select this if the spectral line observation forms an important part of the science case.

    • Continuum: Select this if your primary science case does not require high spectral resolution.

    • Image plane time domain: This refers to observations of slower transients that will be imaged using visibilities from the standard correlator modes.

    • Pulsars and fast transients: Select this category if you are going to be making use of User Supplied Equipment.

  • Proposal type category: Please refer to the Call document for definitions of the proposal types and time limits. Note that both Large and Multi-year can be selected but Regular proposals preclude these categories.

    • Regular

    • Large: Large proposals must include details of pilot studies conducted prior to submitting this proposal.

    • Multi-year: Need not necessarily be a Large proposal.

An additional entry field appears when the Large proposal category is selected.
  • Previous related projects. Provide proposal details and a brief (no more than 50 words) report on project status (if publications have already resulted, it may be sufficient to provide their bibliographic details including title). After selecting the tick box a pop-up menu will appear.

Science details and status of any previous projects closely related to the current proposal.
  • Upload your science case as a pdf. Note that the pdf should be less than 10 MB and not exceed 3 pages for Regular proposals. Large proposals may submit up to 4 pages.


Attach/input (J2000) coordinates of your proposed targets, if they are known, as well as the requested integration time per target in seconds, excluding calibrators and calibration overheads. In the case of Target of Opportunity observations, subject to triggering criteria, you may tick the box to submit the proposal without specific targets. The triggering criteria must be clearly defined under the ‘Observation’ section. Also if, for instance, your project aims to cover a wide contiguous area of sky, you may choose to note those details in the ‘Additional Information’ box on the last page rather than submitting many individual targets.

Large target lists may be uploaded as csv files.

  • Only targets of the format: NAME, RA, DEC, TIME will be imported.

    • sample: J0408-6545, 04:08:20.123, -65:45:09.61, 180

  • Both the RA and DEC coordinates can have arbitrary precision. However, RA will be truncated to 3 decimals, whereas DEC will be limited to 2 decimals.

  • Time, in seconds, is limited between 1 and 1440000.

  • A window will show a table of discarded targets, if any, stating the invalid fields under the REASON column.

  • Note that duplicate targets (same RA and DEC) will also be discarded.

Input target details. Note that the time on target in this table excludes any overheads. For your convenience, the total time for all targets is displayed at bottom in hours.

Observation details

The observation details form has been significantly expanded from 2022. Please read the Call document for conditions pertaining to time requests, including multi-year proposals.

Spectral zoom modes are only available for L-band at this point.

S-band requests are restricted to 16 hours, including overheads.

Multiple bands can be requested. The time request for each band must be entered into this form.

The observation details form. Some choices, such as high correlator dump rates and night time observing, will need to be justified in the Science Case.
  • Choose between imaging or beamformed observations. Note beamformed observations can also include imaging. Selecting beamformed observations triggers a new dropdown selection box for User Supplied Equipment.

  • Choose the observing band(s), integration period, correlator channelisation, and centre frequency in the case of narrowband modes.

  • Indicate the amount of observing time (including overheads) that you are requesting. Note that for standard calibration schemes an overhead of 25% can be assumed. If different overhead fraction/time is expected (different calibration scheme, many short slews, etc), this must be justified in the Science Case and the OPT must be used to simulate the observations. Short observations (< 2 hours) tend to have much higher overheads due to the larger proportion of time spent on the bandpass calibrator. Please refer to our page on average overheads for further details.

  • In certain cases, night time observations may be necessary, e.g. to avoid solar interference or because simultaneous optical observations are planned. Note that night observations tend to be more oversubscribed and your preference needs to be justified in the Science Case.

  • For target of opportunity (ToO) observations, the triggering criteria must be clearly specified.

It is not necessary to include target lists for ToO requests, but the triggering criteria must be clearly specified.

Data management

  • MeerKAT datasets, particularly for spectral line modes, can become extremely large. Use the data volume calculator to estimate the size of the measurement set to be downloaded. Remember that you will need several times this in disk space to process the data.

  • Specify where you are planning to reduce the data. The compute requirements may be considerable.

  • Many of our users have experienced challenges in downloading data. Please indicate how you plan to transfer the data to the processing facility. Users who may need to download many terabytes of data and who have a slow internet connection may wish to make prior arrangements with SARAO to ship tapes (if they have the appropriate tape drives).

Data access options
  • You may wish to consider using the SDP pipeline and images for some purposes, particularly if rapid feedback is necessary.

  • Upload a one-page pdf detailing the data management plan including relevant experience of the team (see the Call document for details).

Saving and accessing saved drafts

After creating new proposals by clicking the + New Proposal button, and entering a Proposal Title and selecting a Batch, these proposals can be accessed by clicking on them from the list. Proposal changes are automatically saved when moving between pages, uploading a Science Case or Data Management Plan, by manually clicking on the Save button, or every 2 minutes if changes have been made. Once all fields have been completed, a PDF version of the draft proposal can be accessed from the the Submit page of the proposal, or from the proposals list by clicking the download button.

Draft proposals can be removed from the proposals list at anytime by clicking on the Delete button in the Submit page of the proposal.

Preparing multiple proposals

You will be able to have multiple active drafts in the PSS. Click + New Proposal in the homepage to start another draft.

Submitting, revising or withdrawing your proposal

Once all required fields have been completed, navigate to the Submit page of the proposal, download the draft PDF version and verify that all information is present and correct (including the attachments). Click the Submit button to submit the proposal. An email will then be sent to you and all individuals registered in the Team page.

After a proposal is submitted, it can be revised, but only before the deadline. This is done by clicking the revise button inside the the proposal that has been submitted. If a proposal has been reopened for revision, the proposal will need to be resubmitted, even if no updates were made.

There is an option to revise the proposal after submission, prior to the submission deadline. The proposal needs to be resubmitted once revisions have been made.