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Advanced Radio Astronomy in Europe

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Global synergies in radio astronomy

The EU is leading the world in bringing together facilities, resources and expertise in radio astronomy, promoting unparalleled research and development (R & D) in the field.

Climate Change and Environment

Europe has a very sophisticated network of radio-astronomical facilities that could contribute to research in a number of scientific fields. The EU is working fervently to create synergies and facilitate access to these facilities in order to further research on the topic. One recent initiative in this direction was the EU-funded project 'Advanced radio astronomy in Europe' (RADIONET-FP7) . To achieve its aims, the project brought together 27 partners that operate the finest telescopes in Europe and worldwide and that conduct advanced R & D. It incorporated international facilities such as Chile's Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), New Zealand's upcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA), China's Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO) and the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT). More specifically, beyond providing access to Europe and the world's key facilities, the project pooled resources, skills and expertise in the field. It furthered R & D for existing radio infrastructure and supported the Strategic Plan for European Astronomy (ASTRONET) through its new research community. This helped facilitate the development of new technologies and software, offering access to world-class facilities and supporting knowledge transfer. Importantly, many research projects and EU-led joint research activities emerged from the initiative, exceeding the planned number of projects by about 75 %. These projects involved, for example, new software to process and analyse the large amounts of data from the different observatories. RADIONET-FP7 also contributed to developing the next generation of astronomers and engineers, preparing as well for new, upcoming radio astronomy facilities. Training was provided for astronomers on the latest instruments and techniques. Lastly, the project helped promote public knowledge of radio astronomy and fostered public understanding of science. These achievements are set to strengthen Europe's leading role in radio astronomy, foster R & D in the field and reinforce the EU's ever-growing knowledge economy.

Keywords

Radio astronomy, research and development, telescopes, astronomical observatory, radio infrastructure, knowledge transfer, astronomers, science, knowledge economy

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Climate Change and Environment

2 April 2014