UK space news: Britain takes key role in European astronomy project ORP | Science | News

Members of more than 37 European institutions, including scientists from the UK, have come together to improve how optical and radio telescopes across Europe collaborate. The ambitious project, dubbed OPTICON-RadioNet Pilot or ORP, has received more than £13million (€15million) in funding. The UK will play a key role in the new network, enabling one of the fastest-growing types of research.

The network will combine as many wavelengths – such as visible light and radio – as possible to increase the number of astronomical discoveries made.

Astronomers from the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC’s) UK Astronomy and Technology Centre (UK ATC) are joined on the project by astronomers from the University of Durham, Cambridge and Manchester.

Other partners include e-MERLIN, an array of seven radio telescopes scattered across the UK, as well as the Low-Frequency Array or LOFAR in the Netherlands.

The consortium is being funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, which has seen nearly £71billion (€80billion) of funding from 2014 to 2020.

READ MORE: SpaceX launch: Elon Musk says first 9 mile Starship flight this week

The effort is being led by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) with CNRS astrophysicist Jean-Gabriel Cuby as project coordinator, and Gerry Gilmore of the University of Cambridge as scientific coordinator.

With our ever-expanding understanding of the Universe, scientists are looking at a wider range of techniques to help facilitate new discoveries.

By combining the best of what the UK and the rest of Europe have to offer, the international effort hopes to improve the capabilities of facilities and create support and training for new users.

Professor Gerry Gilmore from the University of Cambridge, who co-ordinates the optical telescope network, said: “The UK has become steadily more integrated in European and global astronomy over decades.

Dr John Davies, who coordinates the peer-review process for the optical telescopes, said: “Working to bring together radio and optical observatories into a seamless structure will be challenging, but extremely worthwhile as multi-messenger astronomy becomes ever more important.”

STFC will also play a role in the initiative, by overseeing the project and the elements responsible for developing a future strategy for European optical and radio astronomy.

ORP will start on March 1, 2021, and will receive funding for four years.

The project was approved earlier this month by the European Commission.

In the UK, Manchester University will develop the world’s first application allowing astronomers access to optical and radio telescopes across the globe.

Durham University will lead the provision of “high-performance adaptive optics facilities” for experimentation.

Systems like these are critical for observing distant exoplanets as well as projects like the Extremely Large Telescope in Chile, which is still under construction.

Simon Garrington, associate director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, said: “This represents by the far the largest and most comprehensive suite of facilities to be brought together and offered through a single programme to the European scientific community, and this ORP will develop the tools to enable scientists to design, submit and execute projects and then obtain and analyse the data in a common framework.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *