Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


CTA-DEV Report Summary

Project ID: 676134
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CTA-DEV (Cherenkov Telescope Array: Infrastructure Development and Start of Implementation)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Cherenkov Telescope Array project aims to provide a unique global facility for very high energy gamma ray astronomy, addressing many long-unanswered questions in astronomy and astrophysics, astroparticle physics, particle physics, and cosmology. Two arrays of Cherenkov telescopes – one in each hemisphere – will provide unprecedented sensitivity for the study of the Universe at the highest energies of the electromagnetic spectrum. The project is supported and promoted by the CTA Consortium, carried by over 200 institutes in 32 countries; Consortium institutes plan to provide the telescopes as in-kind contributions. The CTA Consortium provided instrument specifications and the design as a result of the CTA Preparatory Phase.

Reviews by ESFRI have identified the main bottlenecks towards implementation of CTA as: characterisation and survey of array sites; design and implementation of site infrastructure; concluding long-term agreements; and preparing for construction to begin. The CTA-DEV project targets these bottlenecks by specifically addressing: (i) Designing and planning in detail the site-specific infrastructure required to operate the telescopes provided by CTA Consortium institutes; (ii) Planning the deployment process, exercising it on the first telescopes and their infrastructure, and providing a solid foundation for the mass deployment of telescopes; (iii) Providing the legal basis for approval and deployment of CTA by creating the required founding agreement, hosting agreements, and framework contracts; (iv) Implementing local outreach programmes in the host countries and defining the outreach infrastructure required, promoting relations with the host country at government, commercial, and public levels.

These tasks are carried out by the CTA Observatory gGmbH (CTAO), a non-profit organisation founded by CTA member states to provide a legal framework for the preparations for the CTA Observatory, to administer CTA project management and system engineering, and to prepare for deployment.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Activities in the first reporting period mainly concern design of infrastructure and legal agreements towards hosting the telescope array sites and the construction phase of CTA.
The major achievements are:
Project Management:
The CTA Business Plan – as approved by the CTAO Council – defines the steps of deployment and the scheme for commissioning and operation. It clarifies the deployment strategy and the responsibilities deployment and commissioning.
Infrastructure Design and Planning:
- Identification of the array sites – at ESO, Chile and La Palma, Spain – and of the exact array locations.
- Enhanced site characterization, especially of atmospheric parameters necessary to define in-depth design and calibration requirements.
- A layout of access road networks, grid power connections, power and data distribution systems, and of operations and support buildings for the larger southern installation has been defined, and is being adapted for the smaller northern site.
- Commissioning of detailed design plans of the required infrastructure.
- Preparation of major sub-contracts to evaluate site geology in order to finalize the detailed technical design planning before start of infrastructure construction.
Infrastructure Deployment:
- The model for maintenance and operations in particular of the larger southern site was updated and improved in interaction with ESO, reflecting the planned mode of operation and local specifics.
- A deployment plan for CTA south was set up and approved as part of the ESO Hosting Agreement by CTA as well as ESO Council.
- The model for maintenance and operations in particular of the larger southern site was updated and improved in interaction with ESO, reflecting the planned mode of operation and local specifics.
Legal agreements for setting up the observatory:
- The CTAO legal entity has grown to 11 shareholders and three associate members.
- Preparation of a signature-ready hosting agreement for the southern CTA site, approved by ESO and CTAO Council.
- Preparation and signature of hosting agreement for the northern CTA site.
- First signatures of a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the construction and operation of CTA have been received, covering more than half of the required threshold funding, most major partners in the signature process.
- An international convention has been drafted, and is being dealt with on a ministry level now.
- Detailed plans for the In-kind contribution scheme were drafted.
- The locations for CTAO Headquarters (Bologna/Italy) and CTA Science Data Management Centre (Zeuthen/Germany) were agreed; hosting agreements are under preparation.
Infrastructure for outreach and host-country stakeholder management:
- A communications plan was developed, identifying the communications objectives, the stakeholders to be addressed, the communications strategy and the themes and key messages.
- As a first implementation step, a new dramatically improved web presence for CTA has been created.
- Facebook, Twitter and Flickr feeds are being served.
- The Chile-specific outreach infrastructure requirements were defined. Implementation is pending final signature of the hosting agreement.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

CTA-DEV is an essential step towards realizing CTA. Once operational, CTA will advance the state of the art in many aspects: (i) Worldwide integration: CTA for the first time brings together the experience of groups worldwide working in gamma-ray astronomy at very high energies. (ii) Performance of the instrument: CTA will provide full-sky coverage, with unprecedented sensitivity, spectral coverage, angular resolution, energy resolution, and timing resolution. CTA will improve performance by an order of magnitude over existing instruments. (iii) Operation as an open observatory: CTA will, for the first time in this field, be operated as a true observatory, open to a wide scientific community and providing support for easy access and analysis of data. Data will be made publicly available and will be accessible through the Virtual Observatory. And (iv) Technical implementation, operation, and data access: While based on existing and proven techniques, the goals of CTA imply significant advances in terms of efficiency of construction and installation, in terms of the reliability of the telescopes, and in terms of data preparation and dissemination.

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