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Joining up Users for Maximising the Profile, the Innovation and the Necessary Globalisation of JIVE

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - JUMPING JIVE (Joining up Users for Maximising the Profile, the Innovation and the Necessary Globalisation of JIVE)

Reporting period: 2020-02-01 to 2021-07-31

Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) is a technique used in radio astronomy, whereby telescopes spread across the Earth coordinate as an array to produce extremely high-resolution images when studying cosmic radio sources. Such results contribute to answering some of the most fundamental questions in astronomy and physics.

The successful operation of VLBI requires cross-institutional collaboration and coordination – which currently occurs in Europe through the European VLBI Network (EVN) and the Joint Institute for VLBI European Research Infrastructure Consortium (JIVE). The EVN is a network of telescopes and institutions across the globe, and JIVE is the central organisation in the EVN. Data from EVN telescopes is processed at JIVE, which also provides network and user support, conducts leading research and fosters technical development in the field of radio astronomy.

The EVN is currently the most sensitive radio telescope VLBI array in the world – observations conducted using the network have contributed to some of the most ground-breaking research in astronomy and physics. Ensuring the sustainability and progression of JIVE maintains the intellectual capital of the institute and the EVN, as well as guaranteeing the proliferation of technical and scientific knowledge across international borders.

Advances in the development of radio telescopes, such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), present opportunities for new science cases, where VLBI will provide essential complementary data. In this context, the JUMPING JIVE project has ensured that the SKA will be technologically compatible with existing telescope arrays, such as the European VLBI Network. JUMPING JIVE has advocated the services of JIVE and explored novel partnerships across and beyond the EVN to strengthen the network in preparation for an era of global VLBI.
JUMPING JIVE succeeded in advocating VLBI, enhancing the European VLBI Network and preparing JIVE and the EVN for future scientific and technological challenges. An important milestone of the project was the coordination of more than 80 international experts to write a White Paper that defined the Science vision for the future of EVN.

JUMPING JIVE had a leading role in developing VLBI capabilities and science cases for working with forthcoming radio telescopes, such as the Square Kilometre Array.

JUMPING JIVE showcased how old data and software can be modernized step-by-step to ensure relevance for new audiences, for example by implementing geodetic capabilities for the EVN telescopes.

JUMPING JIVE fostered an active presence at international astronomy meetings, bringing the scientific potential of VLBI to a broad community. Thousands of scientists were reached through outreach activities. The project enhanced the awareness of the opportunities in physics and astronomy to broaden the knowledge of astronomy and related projects within African institutes and local communities, including the training of over 250 young students in seven African countries.

Over the course of the project, JIVE has been established as an open and welcoming community with a strong emphasis on its ability to provide high-quality support for anyone interested in doing science with the EVN.
Through the JUMPING JIVE project, there has been improved communication across both the EVN and the international astronomy community. This directly contributed to the strengthening of the network, ensuring its future relevance and sustainability and reasserting the role of JIVE as a key global player in the field of VLBI, with the EVN at the core of its activities. At the same time, the continued technological reflection and improvements pave the way for developing an increasingly global network.

Collaborations across the world bring together new teams and insights which shape and affect how the network grows over time. The presence of VLBI institutes also offers opportunities for local access to developing interests across all STEM subjects, not only astronomy and physics.

The project has successfully built an international intellectual capital, with multiple prospects to share knowledge and technical expertise across borders. JUMPING JIVE has contributed to elevating the profile of JIVE, supporting the process that led Latvia and Italy to join JIV-ERIC. It has also been instrumental in supporting the scientific, technological and societal goals of VLBI, which ultimately is a network of instruments that is dependent on a strong and collaborative network of organisations and people.
Participants of the SKA-VLBI workshop 2019
Training at the Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory in April 2018
Front page of the JIVE and EVN brochure
White Paper "VLBI20-30: a scientific roadmap for the next decade"