Request for Proposal/Qualifications RFP131006 for General engineering, software engineering, and systems engineering services

11 January 2005


The Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH) on behalf of the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) office of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy is issuing a Request for Proposal/Qualification (RFP) for general engineering, software engineering, and systems engineering services. Project and task details, as well as, details regarding the selection process are covered in the following paragraphs.

1 Introduction

The Pan-STARRS is an innovative design for a wide-field imaging facility being developed at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy. By using four comparatively small telescopes, each with a 3 degree field of view, we will be able to develop and deploy an economical observing system that will be able to observe the entire available sky several times each month. This will permit the observation of time changes in the sky.

The immediate goal of Pan-STARRS is to discover and characterize Earth-approaching objects, both asteroids and comets, that might pose a danger to our planet. Moving the huge volume of images produced by this system will provide valuable data for many other kinds of scientific programs.

1.1 Pan-STARRS Science

The design of Pan-STARRS is heavily weighted toward its primary purpose, which is to detect potentially hazardous objects in the Solar System. But the wide-field, repetitive nature of the Pan-STARRS observations make them ideal for a host of other astronomical purposes, ranging from Solar system astronomy to cosmology.

Some of the science described here can be done as a by-product of the asteroid searches, but some of the studies require more specialized observations, such as color filters, greater integration time or more frequent exposures.

There are two features that distinguish Pan-STARRS from other astronomical surveys; its ability to map very large areas of sky to great sensitivity, and its ability to find moving or variable objects. The projects that are listed below all make use of one or other of these characteristics.

  • The Solar System
  • Star and the Galaxies
  • Galaxies and Cosmology
  • The Active Universe

1.2 Pan-STARRS Design

Pan-STARRS will be composed of 4 individual telescopes of 1.8 meter aperture observing the same region of sky simultaneously. Each telescope will have a 3 degree field of view and be equipped with a CCD focal plane mosaic with 1 billion pixels. The spatial sampling of the sky will be about 0.3 arc-seconds. In survey mode, i.e., searching for potential killer asteroids, Pan-STARRS will cover 6,000 square degrees per night. The whole available sky as seen from Hawaii will be observed 3 times during the dark time in each lunation.

With exposure times varying between 30 and 60 seconds, we expect Pan-STARRS to reach a limiting magnitude of 24. Our focal plane will employ Orthogonal Transfer CCDs that allow the shifting of charge along both rows and columns. This will allow us to use on-chip image motion compensation, i.e., the equivalent of "tip-tilt" image compensation, but without moving parts.

1.3 Data Handling

Each raw image from a single Pan-STARRS camera will contain 2 GB (2 bytes per pixel). In full survey mode typical exposures last 30 seconds, so the raw data rate is several terabytes per night for the full telescope. The amount of data produced by Pan-STARRS is so large that it will not be practical to archive every image. Software techniques are therefore being developed to filter out the important information from the images, while allowing less crucial information to be discarded.

As soon as a Pan-STARRS image is read from a camera, it must be searched for known stars, which are used to calibrate the image both astrometrically and photometrically. The images from the four telescopes are compared with each other to remove spurious effects such as cosmic rays, gaps between CCD cells, and bad pixels. Then, a composite image is calculated based on the four sub images, and corrected for measured variations in atmospheric seeing. Given the speed at which Pan-STARRS produces new images, all the above steps must be completed within about one minute of computer time.

1.4 Pan-STARRS Partners

The current Pan-STARRS team comprises a conglomerate of participating institutions, each contributing its technical expertise.

  • University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy has overall responsibility for the Pan-STARRS project, concentrating also on analysis, algorithms and camera fabrication.
  • Lincoln Laboratories at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MITLL) are designing and fabricating the OTAs for the project.
  • Maui High Performance Computer Center (MHPCC) is participating in the design of the data processing pipeline.
  • Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) is participating in the design of the database aspect of the project.

2 Description/Scope of Work Tasks

The University of Hawaii, Institute of Astronomy (IfA) is seeking companies or individuals, hereafter referred to as offerors, with an interest in providing FTE systems and software engineering support to the Pan-STARRS PS-1 prototype. The PS-1 configuration will consist of one optical instrument deployed on Haleakala on Maui, with supporting hardware and software suitable for trade studies and analyses to be used for determination of the final Pan-STARRS, denoted PS-4. The University of Hawaii is prepared to offer multiple awards to one or more offerors; offerors are requested to identify the level of engineering support that can be provided for any or all of the seven areas of interest, identified as tasks, listed in the scope of work below. Depending on the qualifications of the offerors and the availability of funds, the Project may elect to award all or only a subset of the areas of interest or tasks. Follow-on work is expected to be available for PS-4. This RFP is a one step process; offerors are requested to provide evidence of qualifications and their corresponding FTE rate structure. The selected offerors will be issued a services agreement through the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii for the following scope of work:

The scope of work effort shall include technical analyses and reports, detailed engineering and design studies, and software deliverables customary in the engineering trade. The estimated level of effort to complete each task listed below is one to two man years a piece. Funding is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2005 through the last quarter of 2006.

The following is a list of seven areas of interest identified as Scope of Work Tasks that offerors are requested to address:

  1. Radio Frequency Interference study for the Haleakala site of PS-1
  2. Global systems engineering for the PS-1 summit infrastructure
  3. Data reliability and persistence study
  4. Software and hardware test and integration plans
  5. Observatory and telescope software effort
  6. Advanced image processing algorithm development
  7. Wavefront Sensing

2.1 Radio Frequency Interference

As with any sensitive piece of electronic equipment, the Pan-STARRS camera is state-of-the-art in semi-conductor technology. This task is two fold. The first part is to survey and identify, through analysis and or experimentation, all of the known or detectable RF sources on or near the Haleakala summit. Secondly, based on the current PS-1 observatory, telescope and camera design, analyze the impacts of these RF sources on the camera and telescope electronics. The results of this study should yield potential EMI/EMP mitigation requirements that will impact the observatory and telescope design, as well as requirements and shielding solutions for the camera subsystem.

2.2 Global Systems Engineering

The Pan-STARRS project requests bids for systems engineering relating to the PS-1 summit infrastructure. This task would involve generating requirements and design documents for the observatory infrastructure, connected buildings, etc. Infrastructure essentials such as power, environmental control, high speed secure data communications are just a few of the necessary elements needing attention.

2.3Data Persistence and Reliability

The Pan-STARRS will collect an unprecedented quantity of data over the lifetime of the operational project. As a service to the scientific community, as soon as science data collected with the PS-1 prototype are validated, the Pan-STARRS project will disseminate this data to the public. As a result this data is very valuable and needs to be hosted on a reliable system with a minimal chance for loss and corruption. This task will take the form of a trade study showing several hardware and software solutions as a function of cost, availability, and persistence. Methods to ensure the integrity of the data at each stage on the processing are of particular interest. The result of this study will be a requirements document for each candidate system that can be used for design and procurement.

2.4 Integration and Test

The Pan-STARRS from its inception was conceived with modularity in mind. All of the different elements of the Pan-STARRS are grouped so that development can take place with the minimal amount of subsystem interaction and dependence. This inherently places an extremely high value on well defined intra-subsystem interfaces, and a systems integration plan that is both cogent and realistic. This task will take the form of both integration and test plans. These plans must be flexible and allow for limited resources; e.g. only one camera will be available. If software simulations of hardware are necessary, the requirements for these software packages will be a deliverable as well. The plans will also include a hazard analysis justifying an appropriate level of testing for each software package.

2.5 Observatory and Telescope Software

As a part of the Pan-STARRS project, the observatory and telescope infrastructure software is both complex and critical. This task will take the form of the following: software and hardware requirements analysis and documentation; design and implementation of observatory command and control software; design and implementation of database and telemetry software, all of which is taking place in a hard real time environment.

2.6 Advanced Image Processing

As part of the Pan-STARRS project, and over its operational lifetime, non-scientific artifacts are assured to appear in the image data taken from the camera sub-system. This task will take the form of generating requirements and a set of metrics to define and identify these artifacts. In addition, algorithm development, founded in mathematics and derived from first principles, for real-time processing of the image data is necessary as well. The implementation of these algorithms can not restrict the normal Pan-STARRS image processing operation.

2.7Wavefront Sensing

Under the broad heading of wavefront sensing (WFS), there is a set of corrections allowing image focus, collimation, astigmatism correction, etc. that require a closed-loop camera-telescope interaction (active sensing at the focal plane and active control of the telescope optics by the telescope control system). There are currently outstanding issues for both requirements and design specifications that need to be completed. The engineering role here is to coordinate with IfA scientists, collect relevant information, and develop a systematic and detailed design approach meeting PS-1 schedule constraints.

Telescope software is specified to have control of 5 axes of the secondary mirror, one axis of the primary mirror, and control of a 12 point astigmatism/trefoil correction system (PSDC-310-009-001). These telescope controls require a wave front sensor for feedback in an automated control loop capable of sensing collimation and focus conditions once every 30 seconds. The exact nature of this WFS is still under design. One design under consideration would utilize extra-focal stellar images to derive the wave front information. An alternative is to use an independent Shack-Hartmann sensor.

The engineering role here is to coordinate with IfA scientists and Pan-STARRS telescope engineers to develop the software which closes the loop between the telescope control system and the WFS. The extra-focal sensor may require the development of code which analyzes the sensor images for collimation and focus information. The Shack-Hartmann sensor may involve integration of off-the-shelf code into the telescope control system.

3 The RFP Process

For Task 2.6, it is imperative that offerors have experience with Department of Defense (DOD) customers, have the ability to work in a classified environment and hold secret clearance(s). This is not necessary for the other tasks. The Pan-STARRS project expects much the work will be performed on location. Because the Pan-STARRS project is funded through the University of Hawaii, all submitted bids will be considered public domain as well as the ranking and rating process and the results thereof. Please clearly identify any proprietary material that you do not wish to disclose. For additional information, please see the Pan-STARRS web site: Additional reference materials and internal documents will be made available upon request.

3.1 Period of Work for Tasks 2.1 - 2.7

The period of work for all tasks will begin upon execution of the services agreement. Evidence of qualifications shall be provided by Friday, January 28, 2005, 2 pm HST. All work must be completed on or before December 31, 2006 pending availability of funds. Progress will be reported quarterly.

The period of work for all tasks will begin upon execution of the services agreement. Evidence of qualifications shall be provided by Friday, January 28, 2005, 2 pm HST. All work must be completed on or before December 31, 2006 pending availability of funds. Progress will be reported quarterly.

3.2 RFP131006 Qualification Requirements

All interested offerors must submit a proposal with evidence of qualifications with the following information:

  1. Clearly identify which Scope of Work task/study or tasks/studies your company is interested in and the scope of the task/study.
  2. Relevant corporate experience:
  1. Experience with telescopes or optical sensor systems and related software within the previous 15 years. If more than five, include only the five most relevant and/or recent. Include year and quarter of contract award and year and quarter of telescope acceptance and name, address and email of the customer.
  2. Relevant experience with procurement and/or fabrication of optics and optical components, if applicable.
  3. Relevant experience with the design and/or implementation of instrumentation software, if applicable.
  4. Relevant systems engineering experience with the design, integration and/or implementation of instrumentation software and systems.
  5. Relevant experience in the design and/or fabrication of other related work.
  1. Names, titles, experience and qualifications of technical persons to be assigned to this proposal. The proposal technical contact shall be identified. List the percentage that each individual is estimated to contribute to the task/study.
  2. An organization chart of the relevant division or the company that includes individual names and their titles or function. The relationship of the proposal technical contact to the division or the company management shall be indicated.
  3. The age of the firm and its average number of employees for the past 5 years.
  4. Identify the business (as opposed to technical) contact for the proposal and his/her title/function.
  5. Clearly state the FTE rate structure.
  6. The attached Acknowledgement to Request for Proposal/Qualification No. RFP131006, RFP Attachment A, signed by an authorized representative.

3.3 Modifications to RFP131006

Any modifications to RFP131006 will be posted to the Pan-STARRS website In addition, answers to frequently asked questions will be posted there as well. Companies are responsible to check this website for any modifications to the RFP.

3.4 RFP131006 Proposal/Qualification Submittal

All proposals/qualifications must be received by Friday, January 28, 2005, 2 PM HST. We prefer electronic proposals/qualifications to be emailed to Qualifications may also be mailed, delivered or faxed to the administrative representative:

Ms. Gale Yamada
University of Hawaii
Institute for Astronomy
2800 Woodlawn Drive, Room 290
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
Phone:	(808) 988-8970
FAX:	(808) 988-8972

Pan-STARRS technical representative is Dr. Andrew Douglas at (808) 988-8984 or email Pan-STARRS administrative representative is Ms. Gale Yamada at (808) 988-8970 or email All questions related to this RFP should be addressed to either the technical or administrative representative.

3.5 Review of Proposals/Qualifications and Basis of Award

Proposals/qualifications will be reviewed at the Institute for Astronomy and selections made by Friday, February 11, 2005. The proposals/qualifications will be evaluated according to the criteria table below. The proposals/qualifications for each task/study will be evaluated separately. The un-weighted point sum will be computed for each task/study and then averaged for each offeror. The average will be taken only over those tasks/studies that are proposed, i.e., there is no penalty for not responding to all tasks/studies.


  • Past performance, especially on similar projects
  • Applicable experience of firm and individuals assigned to projects
  • Capabilities, especially in the key design areas
  • FTE rate structure

The highest ranked offeror for each task/study will be asked to submit a cost proposal for the initial work.

RCUH and IfA reserves the right to consider as acceptable only those proposals submitted in accordance with all requirements set forth in the RFP and which demonstrate an understanding of the scope of work. Any proposal offering any other set of terms and conditions contradictory to those included in this RFP may be disqualified without further notice. Offerors are advised that the award of any agreement is contingent upon availability of funds.

3.6 Summary of RFP131006 Deadline and Selection Dates

Date of Notice:		Tuesday, January 11, 2005
RFP Deadline:		Friday, January 28, 2005, 2 pm HST
Selection Date:		Friday, February 11, 2005

3.7 Services Agreement Requirements with the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii

The selected company must submit the following documentation prior to execution of a services agreement with the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii upon request by the Institute for Astronomy:

  • Tax clearance from the State Department of Taxation and the Internal Revenue Service, as required by Act 314.
  • Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, Proposed Debarment, and Other Responsibility Matters.
  • Certification and Disclosure Regarding Payments to Influence Certain Federal Transactions.
  • Standards of Conduct Declaration.
  • Business Classification Certification Statement.

Acceptance of a services agreement with the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii requires acceptance of the attached General Conditions for Services Agreements, RFP Attachment B and Special Conditions for Services Agreements, RFP Attachment C. Forms will be provided to the selected companies.