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Astroparticle and Oscillations Research with Cosmics in the Abyss (ARCA and ORCA)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - KM3NeT - INFRADEV (Astroparticle and Oscillations Research with Cosmics in the Abyss (ARCA and ORCA))

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

This project addresses the coordination and support actions to prepare a legal entity for KM3NeT ( KM3NeT will be a distributed research facility hosting a network of neutrino telescopes deployed in the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea which is pursued by a large international collaboration comprising about 250 persons from 15 different countries. The main objectives of the KM3NeT Collaboration are i) the discovery and subsequent observation of high-energy neutrino sources in the Universe and ii) the determination of the mass hierarchy of neutrinos. There are two countries that will each host part of the infrastructure (in the future this may become three), one country that developed a new cost-effective technology and a number of other countries that contribute key elements to the research infrastructure (e.g. human resources, components and computing). This deviates from the traditional picture in which a single host country takes the lead (strategically, financially and/or logistically) and invites other countries to join. Furthermore, the finances are being acquired from national, regional and other funding. The availability and constraints of these funds have led to a phased implementation (funding is secured for phase 1 and a significant fraction of the funds for phase 2 have been committed). Finally, there exist no umbrella organisation such as CERN ( or ESO ( for research facilities of this kind. In this context, a sustainable central organisation has been sought and an European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) has been identified as the preferred solution.

This project constitutes a second preparatory phase for KM3NeT. It will be carried out within the context of the KM3NeT Collaboration. The primary objective of this project is to establish a legal entity for the KM3NeT research infrastructure (i.e. a KM3NeT ERIC). The list of additional objectives of this project includes the preparations for various services which the KM3NeT Collaboration intends to provide, including open access to (future) data and to the deep-sea infrastructure. With this project, a sustainable way of cooperation between KM3NeT and other science fields will be prepared and the interaction with other telescopes strengthened.

In itself, this project carries no direct importance to society but it will provide a basis to augment the impact of KM3NeT on society. KM3NeT is positioned in the heart of fundamental, curiosity driven, research. The harsh environment of the deep sea and the high cost of maintenance of the deep-sea infrastructure have been a driving force for design innovations. This project will provide for an outreach and communication plan, a scheme for (bidirectional) transfer of technology & knowledge, a gender equality plan and a code of conduct and ethical behaviour for KM3NeT. The envisaged open access to (future) data and to the deep-sea infrastructure which are being prepared through this project will provide invaluable opportunities for the wider astrophysics, astro-particle physics and particle physics communities and other sciences such as oceanographic, marine biology and climate research. Within this project, the possibility to make KM3NeT a CO2-neutral research facility will be explored. This could serve as an example within the ESFRI landscape to prevent global heating.
Collecting the input on what is needed to set up the ERIC governing structure and have all parties agree on this is clearly a difficult task. To this end, we have set up an ERIC working group, composed of representatives of the ministries of the countries participating in the KM3NeT - INFRADEV project. These are conveniently accompanied by science delegates. To establish a close link with the KM3NeT Collaboration also, the spokesperson of the KM3NeT Collaboration and the chairperson of the board of institutes are formally invited to the meetings of this working group. The main task of this working group is to draft the statutes for the KM3NeT ERIC. To date, the ERIC working group has met four times and, although the achieved steps seem small, we are confident we will reach an agreement before the end of the project.

The kick-off meeting of this project took place on 15 February 2017 in Athens in conjunction with a KM3NeT Collaboration meeting. The project management board, composed of the work package leaders and the secretary of this project, was setup at day one. This board meets monthly by video and during each KM3NeT Collaboration meeting face-to-face (three times per year). The coordinator of this project and -by invitation- one (or more) work package leaders regularly report to the board of institutes of the KM3NeT Collaboration. The coordinator also reports to the whole KM3NeT Collaboration. A joint meeting between this project and the KM3NeT Collaboration took place between 20-22 June 2018 in Amsterdam. One of the highlights of the workshop was the panel discussion on the KM3NeT ERIC governance. The panel was composed of leading persons in KM3NeT, namely: The chair of the institutes board, the chair of the resources review board and the spokesperson (chair of the management team). The panel discussion resulted in more awareness and better understanding of the ERIC policy, thereby advancing the developments within KM3NeT to a new level.

There are tangible results in the development of the outreach and communication plan, the scheme for (bidirectional) transfer of technology & knowledge, the gender equality plan and the code of conduct and ethical behaviour for KM3NeT as well as the preparations of open access to (future) data and the infrastructure. They were openly discussed during the joint meeting and the feedback from the KM3NeT Collaboration has been very positive.
Since the project is not conducting research, progress beyond the state of the art is not to be expected but the progress in awareness and understanding of the ERIC policy, realized at the joint meeting are beyond what was expected a few months ago.

Various outreach activities have been done in the context of this project for KM3NeT, including a stand at the Hannover Messe, 24-28 April 2017 (see photo). To overcome the inaccessibility of the deep sea, various 3D animations of the deep-sea research infrastructure have been developed including a cool VR animation. Also, various activities together with artists have been initiated. These activities stimulate the general awareness of (the vulnerability of) the deep sea, the interplay between fundamental research and industry and the values of fundamental research.

Through this project, KM3NeT actively contributes to discussions on gender equality and diversity and interacts with other research projects about the code of conduct and ethical behaviour. Data on the composition of committees, contributions to conferences, etc. are systematically collected. Personal feedback is regularly obtained from the members of the KM3NeT Collaboration in real-time interactive Q/A sessions during meetings using designated apps. Eventually, these data and feedback can complement other data from industry, NGO’s, etc.

Finally, the idea of a making KM3NeT a CO2-neutral research facility has matured. This could represent a cost saving for the operation of KM3NeT. It could also set an example.