Service Mode Guidelines for Period 101

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 101. Period 100 users (including the authors of Director's Discretionary Time proposals approved during Period 100) should continue to follow the Period 100 procedures.

Phase 2 deadline:

Thursday, 1 February 2018 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).


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. You should finish your preparation with the Phase 2 Submission.

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 have installed the latest versions of the observation preparation tools:
    • 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. In Period 101 the UT2, VISTA and VST users must use the new web-based Phase 2 interface p2 for OBs preparation. For OB preparation on UT1/UT3/UT4 and VLTI instruments the latest version of the P2PP3 tool must be used and P2PP version 2 for La Silla instruments. Note that the OBs include both finding charts and, when applicable (i.e. for moving targets), ephemeris files.
    • One README file for each scheduled observing run must be prepared and submitted from within P2PP (UT1/UT3/UT4 and VLTI) or p2 (UT2, VISTA, VST). 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 Alert ESO... button (the whistle button in the tool bar) in P2PP or Notify ESO button in p2 (UT2/VISTA/VST)! 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 Alert ESO... button.

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