July 26, 2021

ESO Partners With Europe’s Largest Terrestrial Astronomy Network

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has become a member of a new project, launched last week: Europe’s largest terrestrial astronomy network — Opticon-RadioNet Pilot (ORP). This network brings together 37 institutions, including ESO, from Europe, Australia and South Africa.

At ORP, ESO will foster knowledge transfer by organizing a wide range of training programs for the European astronomical community, which will include observation schools in European observatories, as well as archive, instrumentation and proposal writing workshops. In the long term, ESO will also help the ORP to develop strategies that promote equal opportunities policies and actions within the astronomical community.

With a 15 million euro fund from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, ORP links two existing astronomy networks (Opticon and RadioNet) in order to bring together several telescopes and networks from around the world, in order to provide European astronomers with access to a wide range of instruments, as well as training for researchers at the beginning of their careers. The part of the European funds that corresponds to the ESO will be invested in infrastructure supporting the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) e do Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), thus allowing astronomers to access user support services from the ALMA Network of Regional Centers. This fund will also be used to develop new research and analysis tools for the interferômetros ESO and to prepare a training program for astronomers at the beginning of their careers.

“Via ORP, two astronomical communities that observe at different wavelengths, will come together in a massive collaborative effort. This will facilitate the birth of new ideas and collaborations that will eventually result in a more productive and efficient use of ESO’s infrastructure, in synergy with the entire infrastructure of European optical and radio observatories.,” said Leonardo Testi, ESO Astronomer and ALMA European Operations Manager, who is ESO’s main point of contact on the ORP initiative.

The ORP project is coordinated by the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), which jointly manages the network with the University of Cambridge, UK, and the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Germany.