Service Mode Guidelines for Period 105

This page and the links in the left menu provide the general information necessary to complete the Phase 2 preparation for Service Mode programmes at the VLT/VLTI, VISTA and VST.

This information has been updated for Period 105. Period 104 users (including the authors of Director's Discretionary Time proposals approved during Period 104) should continue to follow the Period 104 procedures.

Phase 2 deadline:

Thursday, 6 February 2020 at 12:00 CET


Please note that late submission penalties apply: if the Phase 2 material is submitted after the deadline without prior agreement with ESO, the run shall have its Priority Group reduced automatically by one rank class (A to B, B to C, C to canceled).

News and Recent Changes

Please follow this link to get the news on recent changes concerning general phase 2 matters, observatory news, as well as instrument specific news (if you have chosen an instrument with the Instrument Menu on the right).

New: As of P103, ESO has implemented a Finding Chart Generation service into p2, called p2fc, which allows the automated non-interactive creation of finding charts for individual or multiple OBs at the push of a button for almost all of the P103 VLT instruments that require finding charts. A detailed description and instructions for usage are available in the dedicated p2fc Finding Charts page.


The easiest way to prepare the phase 2 material of your observations is to choose the instrument of your interest in the Instrument Menu on the right and then follow the topics given in the list on the left or to choose the Phase 2 Instrument Overview Table.

ESO is now offering use of the web application p2 for Phase 2 preparation for all Paranal observing runs from Period 102 onward.  The web application p2 fully replaced the use of P2PP for the preparation of the Phase 2 observing material for all telescopes/instruments for both Service and Visitor Mode runs on Paranal. Please check our help section about p2 for instructions on how to notify ESO when your material is ready. Web-based Phase 2 preparation has been deployed for La Silla in October 2019. Observation preparation for La Silla is now done with a "cousin" of p2 called p2ls.   

More general information about Philosophy and Scheduling of Service Mode Observing, General Service Mode Policies, and Special Procedures is also available (see menu on the left).

A quick checklist

  • Before you start...: Please check the following points:
    • You know your ESO User Portal username and password. They are the same ones you use for other things like checking the Webletters, etc. Please consult the User Portal FAQ for more information.
    • You are familiar with the Service Mode Phase 2 concepts and procedures
    • You have installed the latest versions of the observation preparation tools (if needed), such as any relevant instrument-specific preparation tools (FIMS, FPOSS, KARMA, SADT).
    • You may need to submit some Phase 2 Waiver Requests. Those need to be approved by ESO before the phase 2 deadline, and thus need to be submitted at least one week before the deadline.
  • The phase 2 package consists of:
    • A set of Observation Blocks (OBs), constructed and submitted to the ESO database. Users must use the new web-based Phase 2 interface p2 for the preparation of OBs (La Silla users must use p2ls).  Note that the OBs include both finding charts and, when applicable (i.e. for moving targets), ephemeris files. Tutorials for observation preparation with p2 for Paranal instruments are avaiable here.  
    • One README file for each scheduled observing run must be prepared and submitted from within  p2. The README is used by the ESO observers at the telescope to get a quick overview of the programme and any special execution details. 
  • Once the submission is complete:
    • Do not forget to click the Notify ESO... button in p2! This step has to be repeated for every observing run for which you are submitting Phase 2 material. Please be reminded that your phase 2 package submission, re-submission, or modification will not be processed until you have notified ESO of the completion of your submission using the Notify ESO... button.

Updated Phase 2 Delegation

It is possible for the PI of an observing run to allow (an)other user(s) to create the OBs, READMEs, etc. using their own User Portal account by delegating Phase 2 preparation permission to them.

The delegate can be anyone with a registered User Portal account. A different person can be chosen as the delegate for different runs of the same programme. Delegating Phase 2 does not remove Phase 2 access permissions from the PI him/herself. Thus, PIs who use Phase 2 delegation are kindly asked to coordinate Phase 2 preparation between themselves and their delegate(s). Delegation can be viewed and administered though the Access Control ESO web page.
Once a user has been granted Phase 2 permissions for a run they will see the run in p2 (with a small green arrow distinguishing it as a delegated run; same in p2ls) after logging in with their own credentials.

Where to seek help

All investigators assigned Service Mode time should contact the ESO User Support Department in all matters regarding phase 2 preparation. Please include the programme ID in the subject line!

The USD list of Frequently Asked Questions provides answers to some of the most common inquiries related to the preparation of Service Mode Observations.

Instrument selector