ELSAProject reference: 33481
Funded under: FP6-MOBILITY
European Leadership in Space Astrometry
Total cost:EUR 2 618 044
EU contribution:EUR 2 790 493
Call for proposal:FP6-2005-MOBILITY-1
Funding scheme:RTN - Marie Curie actions-Research Training Networks
ELSA brings together world-leading expertise in space astrometry - the use of space platforms for mapping the three-dimensional structure of our Galaxy - with specialists on numerical algorithms and software engineering for the double purpose of (1) preparing for the scientific exploitation of data from the European Space Agency's astrometric mission Gaia, scheduled for launch in 2011, and (2) training the next generation of researchers in this uniquely European specialty to maintain and extend European leadership in space astrometry.
Gaia will perform a stereoscopic census of our Galaxy by measuring accurate distances, motions and astrophysical data for a billion stars. The results will greatly affect nearly all areas of astrophysical research. The scientific management of the mission, including the complex data analysis, requires a mix of specialist skills in space astrometry, software engineering, numerical methods and instrument modelling. This combination is rarely found at a single institute and never in current PhD programmes. It exists however on the European level thanks to the ongoing preparation effort for Gaia and past experience from Hipparcos (launched by ESA, 1989).
The RTN will enhance collaboration between key institutes in the field and transmit the expertise acquired to the next generation of researchers. The research programme has challenging but tangible goals whose outcome will be a key contribution to the Gaia preparations. The data analysis problem is penetrated through novel research, numerical simulations, and GRID computing, leading to new and improved methods for its solution.
The appointment of ESRs and ERs is used to achieve a balanced mix of competence, e.g. between astronomy and software engineering, and to ensure a lively exchange of results through meetings and secondments. The network will attract young research talents to an innovative field and provide excellent training in the context of a high-ranking scientific project.