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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - JUMPING JIVE (Joining up Users for Maximising the Profile, the Innovation and the Necessary Globalisation of JIVE)

Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2020-01-31

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 groundbreaking 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 ensures that the SKA will be technologically compatible with existing telescope arrays, such as the EVN, while advocating the services of JIVE, to strengthen partnerships across the EVN and enlarging the network in preparation for an era of global VLBI.
The JUMPING JIVE project features nine work packages, which collectively contribute to advocating VLBI, enlarging the VLBI network and preparing for future challenges and opportunities with VLBI. Highlights from the project during this period have included:

- Fostered an active presence at international astronomy meetings, bringing the scientific potential of VLBI to a broad community.

- Demonstrated leadership in developing VLBI capabilities and science cases for working with forthcoming radio telescopes, such as the Square Kilometre Array.

- Enhanced the awareness of the opportunities in physics and astronomy to broaden the awareness of astronomy and related projects within African institutes and local communities.

- Showcased how old data and software can be modernized step-by-step to ensure relevance for modern audiences.
Through the JUMPING JIVE project, there has been improved communication across both the EVN and the international astronomy community. This directly contributes to the strengthening of the network, ensuring its future relevance and sustainability. While 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 continues to build international intellectual capital, with multiple prospects to share knowledge and technical expertise across borders. Ultimately, it 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
Visiting the radio telescope at the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand