Applying for the program

Program Description

Each year Ambassadors (participants) are selected from across the U.S and its territories to be part of the ACEAP Ambassadors Program. These selected ambassadors will attend a series of virtual meetings and online training to prepare them for the nine-day Chile expedition. The nine-day expedition trip includes a behind-the-scenes visit to the ALMA, CTIO, Gemini facilities, as well as visits to smaller tourist-community observatories. These visits will include discussions with observatory staff regarding the science and engineering work, and guidance on accessing observatory data archives for research and other purposes. Additionally, ambassadors will have an opportunity to get an understanding of the Chilean culture and the emerging astro-tourism industry. Weather permitting, nighttime observing opportunities are made available. Ambassadors also engage in post-travel related activities and outreach events.

Program Participant Eligibility

The ACEAP Ambassador program is open to any U.S Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents who is an amateur astronomer, planetarium educator, K-12 or college/university educator teaching astronomy as part of a curriculum or informal astronomy educator. ACEAP is a collaborative project between Gemini, NOAO, and NRAO, and as a result employees at these facilities are not eligible to receive ACEAP funding.

Program Goals

  1. Inform amateur astronomers, planetarium personnel, and K-college astronomy educators about astronomy facilities in Chile, the nature of work being done by scientists and engineers at the facilities, and how they can access and use data being collected and other resources from these observatories,
  2. Create a core network of individuals (Ambassadors) who will broadly disseminate knowledge and resources related to NRAO, NOAO and Gemini, and their astronomy-related activities in Chile.

Program Participant Commitment

Ambassadors agree to take part in all essential program-related activities, which include:

  1. Pre-travel phone and video conferences. From the time of selection to departure for Chile, we anticipate a total of six phone/video conferences and training sessions. The phone/video conferences are normally held using a video conference software such as Skype, Google Chat, Zoom Meeting, etc., and can take place after business hours at a pre-agreed time, with a general duration of an hour.
  2. Training sessions. The training sessions topics will include guidance on traveling internationally, getting the most out of your camera, using social media to get the word out, how to tailor presentations to the target audience, developing press releases and articles to the target audience, and guidance on engaging the news media.
  3. Pre- and post-evaluations activities. Engage in pre- and post-program evaluation activities.
  4. Travel to Chile and be able to meet all health criteria for a high-altitude visit. The expedition includes visiting high altitude based facilities, like the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), located at an altitude of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet). The Gemini South telescope, located on Cerro Pachón at an altitude of 2,700 meters (8,900 feet), and ALMA, a new radio telescope array in the Chilean Atacama desert, located at an altitude of 5,000 meters (16,400 feet). For this reason, Ambassadors are asked to visit their primary care physician to discuss the trip and any medical concerns or precations that might be necessary or recommended. Prior to traveling to the high site (16,400 feet) at ALMA, all Ambassadors must sign a waiver and pass an onsite medical assessment. The high-altitude medical assessment normally includes pulse, blood oxygen levels, and blood pressure. For health and safety reasons, you must be medically cleared prior to traveling to the high site.
  5. Complete a minimum of seven outreach events. Outreach events include, but are not limited to, presentations to K through post-secondary students or public, virtual presentations, online blog, article for newsletter, newspaper, or magazine, presentation at professional meetings, etc.

Program Benefits

All Ambassadors will receive significant training in STEM communication, as well as the recognition that comes from being one of the few individuals chosen for ACEAP. Ambassadors will also receive a $500 stipend for completion of the seven-outreach events.

Program Costs and Expenses

While similar programs can cost in excess of $6,000, ACEAP works to keep costs low for program participants. While some participant’s Chile in-country expenses are paid for by the NSF grant, in other cases ACEAP Ambassadors self-fund, or their institutions pay for their expenses. ACEAP is currently exploring sustainable models and as a result, different rules apply depending on selection status. In all cases ACEAP Ambassadors are responsible for their own round trip airline ticket to Santiago, Chile from the U.S., related baggage fees, supplemental health insurance, any related medical expenses while in Chile, lodging upgrades while in Chile, entertainment, and meals and transportation outside of program agenda. Cost for in-country expenses for self-funded or institution-funded participants range from $2,200 – $4,400.

The ACEAP Ambassador’s institution, or a sponsor organization, may be a source of funding to support individual costs and expenses. All Ambassadors will receive significant training in STEM communication, as well as the recognition that comes from being one of the few individuals chosen for ACEAP. The long-term benefits to institutions or sponsors may significantly outweigh the investment of funds on behalf of the ACEAP Ambassador or their institution. Check with your institution to see if professional development funds might be available to cover individual costs.