NASA Proposals ToolKit

NASA continues to play a pivotal role as the primary sponsor for LPL-funded research, whether acting as the UA’s sponsor or the prime sponsor for proposals/projects managed by other institutions. Below, you'll find comprehensive guidance on submitting proposals to NASA, along with resources to support you throughout the process.

To find NASA solicitations for open, future, and closed opportunities, visit the NSPIRES solicitations page.

All NASA proposals should follow the latest NASA Proposer's Guide (formerly Guidebook for Proposers) for guidance on preparing a proposal. Most NASA solicitations fall under Research Opportunities in Earth and Space Science (ROSES) and further guidance is provided via the ROSES Summary of Solicitation (PDF) or ROSES Proposal Checklist (PDF). Further, every program will have its own guidance specific to that program’s needs.

Both the Proposer's Guide and the ROSES Proposal Checklist (PDF) note that the solicitation takes precedence over the Proposer's Guide. Moreover, ROSES adds that individual program elements take precedence over the ROSES Summary of Solicitation. The NASA Proposer's Guide is an Agency document that is sometimes consistent with the ROSES Proposal Checklist, but sometimes ROSES is released before the Proposer's Guide, so guidance can differ between version releases.

In short, solicitation guidance will supersede the ROSES Checklist guidance; and ROSES Checklist guidance will supersede the Proposer's Guide.

  1. Follow the instructions in the individual program solicitation. If the solicitation is silent on something, 
  2. follow the guidance in the ROSES Proposal Checklist. If the ROSES Proposal Checklist is silent,
  3. follow the guidance in the NASA Proposer's Guide.

Dual-anonymous peer review means that the reviewers are unaware of the identities of the proposers, and vice versa, to ensure an unbiased review process. For proposals subject to DAPR, special attention must be paid to anonymizing the proposal to prevent disclosing the identities of the team members. This includes modifying how you present your background, the project’s personnel, and any specific details that could inadvertently reveal the proposer's identity.

An overview of the DAPR program, including intention, statistics, and implementation can be found on NASA's 
Dual-Anonymous Peer Review (DAPR).


It's important to identify if your proposal is subject to DAPR. The required documents for a DAPR proposal vary significantly from a non-DAPR proposal.

Guidance on preparing a DAPR proposal, including detail on the effects to individual proposal elements and additional requirements can be found in the NASA Guidelines for Proposers to ROSES Dual-Anonymous Peer Review Programs (PDF).

       How to Verify DAPR Status:

  • Use the Ctrl+F keyboard shortcut to search for "DAPR” in the solicitation document itself to see if it identifies the program as subject to DAPR.
  • Look under the “Other Documents” section on the NSPIRES solicitation webpage to see if the “Guidelines for Anonymous Proposals” document is included.

If there is no mention of DAPR, the Anonymous Proposals document is not included in the NSPIRES solicitation page, and/or there is specific language indicating that the proposal is not subject to DAPR, then anonymizing the proposal materials will not be required.

NOTE: Anonymizing a proposal is NOT the same as redacting a proposal. Because there are always exceptions, all/most NASA proposals require redacted budget documents; however, not all NASA proposals require anonymization. This means you’ll likely have either an anonymized and redacted proposal (if DAPR) or a non-anonymized and redacted proposal (non-DAPR).

Redacted proposal documents generally refer to the budget only, requiring the salary, ERE, and IDC rate information to be hidden from reviewers. Identities and names can still be included in redacted documents.

Nearly all DAPR proposals require a Two-Step process (detailed below), but not all Two-Step proposals are subject to DAPR. Always check the individual solicitation for verification.

Many NASA programs use a “Two-Step” proposal submission process. This helps reduce the volume of submissions (particularly last-minute "panic" submissions) and limit the opportunities to only serious investigators. 

We recommend submitting an LPL Proposal Support Request form at the time a Step-1 is submitted to get an upcoming proposal on the LPL RA’s radar.

               Step-1 proposal

Step-1's are generally synonymous with a notice of intent (NOI) and provide an abbreviated overview of the proposed research.

  • Typically includes an up to 4000-character summary of the work, entered directly into NSPIRES
  • Identifies named personnel on the proposal team
  • No budget information required at this time
  • Step-1 proposal MUST be submitted by SPS through NSPIRES; however, as a budget is not required at this step, no UAR routing is required at this time.
    • Once a Step-1 proposal is ready in NSPIRES, notify the LPL RA so they can coordinate with SPS to submit.
               Step-2 proposal

The Step-2 proposal is the full proposal submission; including detailed budgets, full SOW, and all proposal elements in final form.

  • May or may not require submission of Step-1 proposal (dependent on program)
  • Once SPS pre-approves the budget, the PI should be finalizing the other non-budget proposal details.
  • Once the proposal materials are uploaded to NSPIRES, the PI must click “Release to Org” to lock the proposal for SPS review.
    • SPS will review the proposal package and other proposal details for compliance and ultimately submit the NSPIRES proposal once finalized.

The steps below can be used as a general framework to guide a UA PI through the NASA proposal development, routing, and submission process.

Select a solicitation and identify the key submission details

Before preparing your proposal, it’s essential to identify the specific NASA solicitation (AKA announcement of opportunity, AO, program element, call, etc.) 

          NSPIRES and solicitation-specific details

  • Most solicitations, including mid-cycle amendments, are published and managed on the NSPIRES solicitations page. This centralized system ensures you have access to the most current information and submission guidelines.
  • Thoroughly read the solicitation guidelines, instructions, and requirements. This includes understanding the proposal’s objectives, eligibility criteria, formatting requirements, and evaluation criteria.
    • It is very common to see additional requirements or program-specific instructions in any NASA solicitation, so the PI and proposal team should carefully review the solicitation for unique or program-specific guidance.

          Key considerations

  • Solicitations are managed and maintained (incl mid-cycle amendments) on the NSPIRES solicitations page
  • Carefully read and review the guidelines, instructions, and requirements provided by the funding agency and individual program announcement. 
  • Pay close attention to eligibility criteria, proposal formatting, non-standard proposal elements, and evaluation criteria.
  • Based on the sponsor’s due date, determine what internal LPL and UA deadlines must be met to guarantee proposal submission.

Record due date(s)

If NOT a Two-Step proposal, there is only one NSPIRES deadline date to consider and record.
If a Two-Step proposal, there will be a due date for Step-1, and a later due date for Step-2.
  • A Step-1 submission serves as a Notice of Intent (NOI), of sorts, and does not require UAR routing or a budget to submit.
    • PI will create a Step-1 proposal in NSPIRES with the requested info and ‘Release to Org’ for SPS submission
  • The Step-2 submission is the full proposal submission
    • Generally 4-12 weeks after a Step-1 due date
    • Step-2 proposals will include the full budget details and require UAR routing and SPS approval and submission

NASA deadlines for NSPIRES proposals typically reference a time of 11:59pm EST. 

Since UA SPS handles NSPIRES submissions and maintains standard business hours, proposals will not be submitted after 5pm, or on any observed holidays or institutional closures. PIs should plan accordingly.


Determine DAPR Applicability

It's important to determine if your proposal is subject to DAPR or not. The required documents for submission vary significantly between DAPR and non-DAPR proposals.

      Non-DAPR proposal
If NOT subject to DAPR, the proposal does NOT need to be anonymized, but the budget documents in the NSPIRES Proposal Document should be redacted (excludes salary info, ERE, and IDC rate detail)
      DAPR proposal
If a proposal IS subject to DAPR, the entire proposal needs to be anonymized, and the budget documents anonymized and redacted.
  • Review the LPL DAPR ROSES Proposal Checklist (PDF)
  • Decide early on which anonymizing labels you’ll use for the proposal.
    • For instance: PI Smith = PI, Co-I Brown = Co-I 1, Co-I White at Johns Hopkins APL = Co-I 2 at Institution 1
  • If there is a Co-I at a different institution, the PI must communicate the Co-I and institution labels assigned for use on the submitted proposal documents.


Notify the LPL RA of Intent to Submit

Notify the LPL RA of your intent to submit a proposal, either through the LPL Proposal Support Request Form or via email (

NOTE: Not all proposal details need to be known and finalized to submit this form! It’s better to submit a form earlier with fewer proposal details than to submit a form later with full and “finalized” proposal details.


NSPIRES Proposal Creation

PIs must create/initiate the NSPIRES proposal – this cannot be delegated to another team member or individual.

All PIs and named personnel should be registered in NSPIRES, with their affiliation set for their home institution. All personnel must be individually added to the NSPIRES Proposal Team and must confirm their affiliation with the proposal.

      If a Step-1 proposal (NOI) is required:
  • Does NOT need to be routed in UAR for UA approvals
  • PI must create the proposal in NSPIRES, provide proposal title, proposal team,  project summary, and Release to Org for submission by SPS.
  • A Step-1 proposal MUST be submitted to submit a Step-2 proposal.
    • A Step-2 proposal submission is not required if the PI opts to withdraw the proposal between Step-1 and Step-2.

The LPL RA team should be notified once a Step-1 is submitted via submission of the LPL Proposal Support Request Form or via email to


Detailed Budget Development and UAR Routing

Budget development and routing will be managed by the LPL RA by working closely with the PI to capture all planned budget assumptions.

  • PIs should send the LPL RA the budget assumptions as early as possible, allowing for the budget and budget narrative development to work in tandem with the proposal text and other proposal elements.
  • Only detailed budget docs will be prepared for the routing and SPS review step; redacted (and anonymized, if applicable) docs will be generated once SPS pre-approval is received on the routed materials.
  • PI-reviewed and approved detailed budget and UA-required proposal materials will be routed for electronic institutional approvals in UAccess Research (UAR).


SPS Budget Review and Pre-Approval

The UAR proposal will electronically route for approvals from the PI, Co-I(s), key personnel, department approver(s), college approver(s), and COI office. The last route stop will be UA's SPS for their review of the budget materials for accuracy and compliance.

  • A preaward reviewer from SPS will communicate with the PI and LPL RA on their review of the budget and UAR proposal materials.
    • If corrections or changes to the budget materials are required for compliance purposes, these will be communicated to the PI and LPL RA  and coordinated via email.
  • Once the UAR proposal and budget docs have been pre-approved by SPS, the LPL RA will populate the NSPIRES budget table with approved budget numbers.
    • The LPL RA will generate and upload the NSPIRES Total Budget pdf attachment using pre-approved detailed budget and budget narrative.
    • LPL RA will also generate the redacted (and anonymized, if applicable) budget pages for the PI to incorporate into their final NSPIRES Proposal Document pdf attachment.


NSPIRES Proposal Package Preparation

  • Refer to the solicitation and the LPL Non-DAPR ROSES Proposal Checklist (PDF) OR LPL DAPR ROSES Proposal Checklist (PDF) to ensure the NSPIRES Proposal Document is compiled in the correct order, using the appropriate documents.
  • The PI is ultimately responsible for the NSPIRES Proposal Document compilation and verifying the proposal is compliant with the NASA and solicitation requirements.
    • LPL RA and SPS reviewer will ensure budget compliance, and also perform formatting and requirement compliance checks as time allows.
  • The Proposal Document attachment will contain either the redacted budget pages, or redacted and anonymized budget pages, based on the type of review.
    • The detailed budget pages will only appear in the Total Budget attachment in NSPIRES.
  • The PI is expected to complete, compile, and upload all other required information and proposal documents to NSPIRES.

NSPIRES Proposal Review & Submission

To be submitted, the NSPIRES proposal must be generated and “Released to Org” by the PI. Once released, SPS will review the NSPIRES details and proposal attachments to validate against what was pre-approved in UAR, in addition to reviewing the attachments for formatting and solicitation compliance.

  • Once the proposal has been validated for compliance, SPS will submit the proposal in NSPIRES on behalf of the PI and UA, and send the submission confirmation email to the PI and LPL RA.
    • If a PI chooses to reject formatting-related compliance feedback or suggested changes, the PI assumes the risk of the proposal being rejected and returned without review.

Which attachments are required in an NSPIRES proposal will depend on the type of review the proposal is subject to.

See the NASA ROSES Checklist (PDF) for the default guidance on formatting and organizing your Proposal Document. Next, refer to one of the following LPL proposal checklists to help guide you through the proposal compilation process, based on the type of review the proposal is subject to:


For additional information on the individual proposal elements referenced below, see the Proposal Elements section.

DAPR proposals typically require the following pdf attachments

  • Proposal Document (ANONYMIZED & REDACTED)
    • Includes anonymized S/T/M, anonymized Table of Personnel & Work Effort, anonymized and redacted budget(s) & budget narrative(s). 
  • Expertise & Resources Not Anonymized (FULL DETAIL, NOT ANONYMIZED)
    • Includes full detail budget(s) & budget narrative(s) 
    • Generated by LPL RA using SPS pre-approved detailed budget documents
  • Optional Appendix, if needed


Non-DAPR proposals typically require the following pdf attachments:

  • Proposal Document (NOT ANONYMIZED, REDACTED)
    • Includes non-anonymized S/T/M, detailed Table of Personnel & Work Effort, C&Ps, CVs, F&E statements, redacted budget(s) & budget narrative(s).
    • Includes full detail budget(s) & budget narrative(s) 
    • Generated by LPL RA using SPS pre-approved detailed budget documents
  • Optional Appendix, if needed

Properly formatting your NASA proposal document for submission via NSPIRES is crucial to ensure it receives thorough consideration. NSPIRES provides specific formatting guidelines for each solicitation, so carefully read and follow the instructions provided in the solicitation announcement. 

If not specified, consult the ROSES Proposal Checklist. If the Checklist doesn't provide guidance, refer to the NASA Proposer's Guide.

General formatting guidelines that usually apply to every proposal:

  • Use standard US Letter paper size (8.5 x 11 inches) in portrait orientation.
  • Maintain 1-inch margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, right).
  • Use a readable single-spaced 12pt font (Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond, Calibri, Helvetica).
    • The NASA Guidebook specifies 12pt font, while the ROSES Checklist allows for 15 characters per inch, which is equivalent to some fonts in 11pt. To be safe, we recommend using 12pt font, but some fonts are acceptable per the ROSES Checklist.
  • Only non-proposal material (e.g., page numbers, header/footer, disclaimers) can appear in the 1-inch margins.
  • Text within figures and tables can be less than 12pt font as long as it's readable without magnification; however, table/figure captions and labels should follow the same 12pt requirement as the main proposal text.
  • References section typically follows standard academic citation styles such as APA, Chicago, MLA, or any other widely accepted citation style.

NASA occasionally includes templates or outlines specific formatting requirements for certain proposal documents in their solicitations. These templates and guidelines aim to maintain consistency and streamline the review process. However, the templates and requirements can differ based on the solicitation type and the NASA program or directorate issuing the call for proposals.

Below are some common proposal documents for which NASA may require or recommend templates or specific formatting guidelines. Refer to the solicitation for program-specific guidance, and the LPL Templates page for available template downloads.

  • Table of Work Effort
  • Current & Pending
  • Open Science & Data Management Plan

Again, always be sure to thoroughly review the solicitation you're responding to. It provides detailed instructions, links to required/recommended templates (if applicable), and special formatting requirements for each proposal document.

Below is a list of proposal elements generally included in any NSPIRES proposal submission. The location of the proposal elements can change based on the type of review the proposal is subject to, so it's very important to review the solicitation to confirm the appropriate elements are included, in the appropriate format and order.

Proposal Summary

(NSPIRES direct input)

Limited to 4000 characters, the project summary provides an overview of the key elements of the research, emphasizing its significance, innovation, and broader impacts.

Table of Contents

(DAPR: Proposal Document; Non-DAPR: Proposal Document)

Generally optional, limited to one page if included

  • Section labels and headers should map to and use the same format/mechanism as the solicitation and appropriate checklist

Science/Technical/Management section

(DAPR: Proposal Document, Anonymized; Non-DAPR: Proposal Document)

Required, page-limited part of the NSPIRES Proposal Document attachment. The S/T/M section is synonymous with the scope of work for the investigation. It should provide an in-depth description of the proposed research. The S/T/M is essential for conveying the scientific and technical aspects of a project, as well as the management and organizational details necessary to fulfill the research objectives.

Additionally, it’s important to review the evaluation criteria outlined in the solicitation to ensure that the proposal meets the specific goals and requirements of the program; in addition to requirements that may differ from the standard.

The PI should refer to the solicitation to confirm the page limitation for the S/T/M section.

    Consider the following elements typically included in the S/T/M section:
  • Introduction to investigation, identify primary research objectives
  • Describe scientific approach and methods
  • Discuss the technical feasibility; including innovative or novel aspects; if the investigation builds on existing knowledge, technologies
  • Research plan and timeline
  • Scientific and technical challenges
  • Management and team structure
  • Resource requirements
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Project management and oversight


(DAPR & Non-DAPR: Proposal Document)

The References section typically follows standard academic citation styles such as APA, Chicago, MLA, or any other widely accepted citation style. 

References must be written in the form of a number in a square bracket, e.g. [1], which will then correspond to the full citation in the reference list.

Open Science and Data Management Plan (OSDMP)

(DAPR: Proposal Document, Anonymized; Non-DAPR: Proposal Document)

Unless otherwise stated, proposals must include an Open Science and Data Management Plan (OSDMP). The OSDMP must address how publications, data, and software will be made available, see below.

The OSDMP will be evaluated as part of the proposal’s intrinsic merit and thus will have a bearing on whether the proposal is selected. Unless otherwise stated, the OSDMP must be placed in a two-page section in the proposal PDF immediately following the references and citations for the S/T/M section of the proposal and does not count against the page limit for the S/T/M section.

See ROSES Open Science and Data Management Plan and the SMD Open-Source Science Guidance for more information on writing the OSDMP, and the questions that should be answered in the document.

For programs participating in Dual-Anonymous Peer Review, the OSDMP must be anonymized.

Program elements that do not conform to the default approach for OSDMPs will say so explicitly in the solicitation details.

Biographical Sketches/CVs

(DAPR: E&R doc; Non-DAPR: Proposal Document)

Required for PI, regardless of level of effort on proposal. Typically limited to two pages.

Required for Co-I and/or Key Personnel committing >10% to the proposed investigation. Typically limited to one page.

CVs for unfunded collaborators are typically not required, but allowable if the PI chooses to include.

Table of Personnel and Work Effort (ToWE)

(DAPR: Anonymized ToWE in Proposal Document & Detailed ToWE in E&R doc; Non-DAPR: ToWE in Proposal Document)

A Table of Work Effort provides a detailed breakdown of the anticipated effort or time commitment for each individual involved in the proposed research project. This table is used to specify the amount of work, typically measured in person-months, that each team member will dedicate to the project over the project's duration. The Table of Work Effort serves to demonstrate that the project team has the necessary expertise and resources to complete the proposed research successfully.

Review the solicitation to confirm if a specific template is required. The current LPL ToWE templates available in the Templates section comply with the standard ROSES ToWE format and contain the same information as any existing NASA ToWE templates (as of Feb 2024).

Redacted Budget Narrative & Details

(DAPR: Redacted & Anonymized in Proposal Document; Non-DAPR: Proposal Document)

All proposals, DAPR and non-DAPR, require a redacted budget narrative and redacted budget table. The redacted budget documents exclude references and details of salary, ERE/fringe benefits, and IDC/F&A rates/costs. 

If a DAPR proposal, the redacted budget documents should also be anonymized.

The redacted budget documents generally appear as the last proposal element in the NSPIRES Proposal Document attachment. 

Detailed Budget Narrative & Details

(DAPR: Total Budget doc; Non-DAPR: Total Budget doc)

All proposals, DAPR and non-DAPR, require a detailed budget narrative and a detailed budget table. 

The full-detail budget documents are generally required to fulfill the NSPIRES Total Budget attachment. 

Statements of Commitment, Letters of Support

(DAPR: E&R doc; Non-DAPR: Proposal Document)

Statements of commitment and/or letters of support are generally not required in an NSPIRES proposal, though can be included if considered appropriate by the PI. For instance, if a solicitation requires team members to include participation statements, team members are unable to confirm affiliation in NSPIRES, and/or a team member does not have guaranteed access to a facility deemed necessary for the proposed investigation. 

For DAPR proposals, statements of commitment or letters of support should only appear in the E&R doc, and not the Proposal Document. For non-DAPR proposals, these should appear in the Proposal Document. 

Facilities and Equipment statement

(DAPR: Anonymized version in Proposal Document, Detailed version in E&R doc; Non-DAPR: Proposal Document)

The F&E section provides a description of existing F&E required for the proposed investigation. This section should NOT include any text that belongs in the S/T/M section. 

For DAPR proposals, the complete F&E section should be included in the E&R doc; though, the anonymized S/T/M section of the Proposal Document should address any need, utilization, and capabilities of the F&E necessary, in an anonymized manner.

For non-DAPR proposals, the complete and detailed F&E section should appear in the NSPIRES Proposal Document.

High End Computing request

(DAPR: Optional HEC request doc; Non-DAPR: Appendix doc)

If an investigation is requesting an allocation of NASA's High-End Computing resources, a separate HEC request form should be completed and uploaded as a separate file in NSPIRES. See NASA's Science Mission Directorate Process Overview for additional HEC guidance.

For DAPR proposals, the S/T/M section of the Proposal Document must provide a brief anonymized overview of the computing resources required, and state that a separate HEC request form is included. Proposers are also required to upload a separate pdf copy of the official HEC request form as attachment type "Optional HEC request" in NSPIRES.

For non-DAPR proposals, proposers should complete the NASA HEC request form and upload the pdf as attachment type "Appendix" in NSPIRES.

Expertise & Resources Not Anonymized (E&R doc, DAPR only)

(DAPR: E&R doc; Non-DAPR: not applicable)

Required for DAPR proposals only, PIs need to upload an "Expertise and Resources Not Anonymized" document (E&R doc) which is not subject to an overall page limit, though specific sections may have their own limits. This E&R document complements the anonymized proposal, providing identifiable details not included in the main submission.

This document should include a list of team members and their roles, their expertise and contributions, necessary resources, a detailed work effort table, bio sketches, statements of current and pending support, letters of resource support, and any other required program-specific documents. 

A full list of details to include in the E&R document can be found in NASA's Dual-Anonymous Peer Review (DAPR) info & guidance document along with the Guidelines for Proposers to ROSES DAPR programs (PDF).