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European Astronomy Gets New Vision

A new vision for radio astronomy is bringing together all 20 of Europe's leading radioastronomy institutes. They plan to build on existing collaboration and significantly enhance the quality and quantity of science currently produced by European astronomers.

RadioNet will create an integrated radio astronomy network providing European scientists with access to world-class facilities along with a research and development plan aimed at supporting and enhancing these facilities. This has been made possible with the help of a grant of 12.4 million euros from the Research Infrastructures action of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The project also hopes to develop a networking series with the aim of ensuring close collaboration in engineering, software, user support and science; and the training of next generation users - both astronomers and engineers. RadioNet is enabling the European radio astronomy institutes to work closer together than ever before, in science, in technology and in planning for the future, says Professor Philip Diamond, the project co-ordinator at the University of Manchesters Jodrell Bank Observatory. We have never all been within a single organisation before and are finding that the levels of communication, efficiency and coordination have already increased to the benefit of all our users', ,Astronomers will quickly see the benefits of this in the shape of greater access to those telescopes that they may not be familiar with, in improvements to the instrumentation of these telescopes and in a more coherent approach to future challenges., ,Peter Fletcher, FP6UK's National Contact Point for Research Infrastructures, believes this is a perfect example of the type of project eligible for FP6 funding, saying: RadioNet was rated first amongst all astronomy proposals in the first group of projects under FP6. A grant of 12.4 million euros over five years greatly strengthens European radioastronomy building on national centres of expertise like Jodrell Bank." There is further good news for the radioastronomers from the recent call for Design Studies within the Research Infrastructures action. The Square Kilometre Array Design Study (SKADS) has received a ranking which means that it can expect to receive a contribution from the Commission subject to contract negotiations. The current Framework Programme (FP6) runs until 2006 and organisations wanting free, easy to access, information on the 19bn euros of funding available to support internationally collaborative R&D should log on to http://fp6uk.ost.gov.uk or call central telephone support on 0870 600 6080.The EU's Framework Programmes are the worlds largest, publicly funded, research and technological development programmes. The Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) covers the period 2002-2006 and is the European Unions main instrument for the funding of collaborative research and innovation. It is open to public and private entities of all sizes in the EU and a number of non-EU countries. It has an overall budget of 19 billion. Most of the budget for FP6 is devoted to work in seven priority thematic areas:,? Life sciences, Genetics and Biotechnology for Health;,? Information Society Technologies;,? Nanotechnologies and Nanosciences, Knowledgebased Multifunctional Materials and New Production Processes and Devices;,? Aeronautics and Space;,? Food Quality and Safety;,? Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems; and,? Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society. There is also a focus on the research activities of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across all seven thematic areas. The services of FP6UK are provided by the Office of Science & Technology (OST) / Department of Trade & Industry (DTI). More information can be found on http://fp6uk.ost.gov.uk Research Infrastructures,The Research Infrastructures programme of the 6th Framework Programme (FP6) is part of the action "Structuring the European Research Area", with a budget of 733M over the lifetime of FP6. 34 projects (224M) were funded from the first call for transnational access and networking for research infrastructures. 3 projects have been funded to develop GRID technologies for Europe (47M), with a further award to support the GEANT backbone linking national computer networks,(93M). 140M is being committed to 30 projects selected in the recent call for design studies and construction. A further 144M will be committed to transnational access and networking of infrastructures in a call to be issued on 4 November 2004, with 25M available for e-infrastructures for a call on 15 December 2004 and 55M for GRIDS for a call on 11 May 2005.

Keywords

Astronomy

Countries

United Kingdom