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Researchers in the early stages of developing their projects or exploring new potential areas of study may benefit from an exploratory consultation with SPARC staff. These remote consultations are intended to launch researchers in new areas of study, define or refine their research or methodological questions, and locate appropriate resources and opportunities for training.

Following consultations, researchers can submit an application for one of our three categories of award: Fieldwork, Data & Analytic, and Publication

Eligibility Requirements

The project must be affiliated with an institution and/or organization that would otherwise be eligible for NSF support.

Generally non-US institutions and organizations are not eligible unless partnering with a US entity.

We encourage the Principal Investigator or a senior member of the technical staff to contact us for a preliminary consultation.

The SPARC program does not support projects where the type of activity is one routinely acquired through commercial providers.

When to get in touch

SPARC accepts requests for exploratory consultation on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Normal response time is two weeks from the receipt of the consultation request.

What information to provide

When contacting us to consult on a project proposal, please provide the following information:


Institutional affiliation

Email address of the primary

Is this consultation intended to lead to a project proposal?

Description of the research question or object/area of interest to which geospatial or geophysical methods may be applied, or properties which are to be measured.

To contact us, please email

Total projects supported annually

SPARC does not limit the number of projects supported through exploratory consultation.

How consultations work

Exploratory consultations will be carried out remotely, usually via videoconference. The first step in a consultation is a discussion with a member of CAST staff about your question or potential area of study, based on the information you submitted. Depending on the nature of the question, an application for a SPARC residency or collaborative project proposal development may be recommended. CAST staff will provide information or guidance at appropriate points via continued videoconferences and written materials.