Image: Project funded by the European Union

Astronomy is experiencing a surge of data from its current generation of observatories, with a size and complexity not seen before. The surge will become a deluge with the next generation of telescopes prioritised in the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

The Astronomy ESFRI and Research Infrastructure Cluster (ASTERICS) project aims to help Europe’s world-leading observatories work together to find common solutions to their Big Data challenges, their interoperability and scheduling, and their data access. Efficient planning of the observations, data access, interoperability with other astronomical resources and archives and knowledge extraction from observations are just a few of these challenges.

ASTERICS will also open up these facilities to the full international community, from professionals to the public, through the International Virtual Observatory Alliance and by funding citizen science mass participation experiments for the current and next generation of world-leading European observatories.

The project is led by the Netherlands institute for radio astronomy ASTRON, with a consortium of 22 European partner institutions, including the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC).

Other Catalan participants are the Institut de Física d’Altes Energies (IFAE) and the GTD company. Other Spanish participants are the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), the Universidad de Granada and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Big projects in astronomy and astrophysics

The facilities supported by the ASTERICS programme include the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a radio telescope currently being built at two locations in Australia and South Africa, as well as precursor/pathfinder experiments. Also the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the first high-energy gamma-ray world-wide observatory, comprising two large arrays of Cherenkov telescopes in the two hemispheres.

Other involved facilities are KM3NeT, a telescope at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea aiming to detect ghostly neutrino particles from space; or the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), an optical and infrared telescope currently being built in Chile.

Other facilities benefitting from ASTERICS support include forthcoming experiments such as the Einstein gravitational-wave Telescope (ET), the Euclid Space Telescope and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), and current facilities such as the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.), Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC), the gravitational-wave detector Advanced Virgo and the European Very Large Baseline Interferometry Network (EVN).

The funding was made through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, which is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly 80 EUR million of funding over 7 years (2014 to 2020).

Participating institutions in ASTERICS:

  • The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON, Netherlands)
  • Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France)
  • Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF, Italy)
  • University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
  • The Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIVE, Netherlands)
  • Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA, Spain)
  • University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)
  • Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (Germany)
  • The Open University (United Kingdom)
  • Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg (Germany)
  • Free University of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  • Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA, France)
  • University of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  • Universidad de Granada (Spain)
  • Stichting Fundamenteel Onderzoek der Materie (Netherlands)
  • Instituto de Estudios Espaciales de Catalunya (IEEC-CSIC, Spain), collaborating with the GTD company (Spain)
  • Institut de Física d’Altas Energies (IFAE, Spain)
  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM, Spain)
  • Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN, Italy)
  • UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC, United Kingdom)
  • Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY, Germany)

More information on the ASTERICS website

Generalitat de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasCentres de Recerca de Catalunya