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JUMPING JIVE Report Summary

Project ID: 730884
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - JUMPING JIVE (Joining up Users for Maximising the Profile, the Innovation and the Necessary Globalisation of JIVE)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

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 (JIV-ERIC, or 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.

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

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:

- Incorporation of new telescopes in the array, including updates and developments in the hardware and software used during the observing process.

- Strengthened relations with African countries and institutes to provide technical support in establishing VLBI capable radio telescopes, as well as training for the upcoming generation of astronomers who will operate the telescopes.

- Identification of key science areas for the future of VLBI, including discussions with the broader astronomy community through conference presentations and attendance.

- Active engagement with both the astronomy community and the broader science communication community to indicate the vital role of VLBI and its niche in astronomy.

- Software developments that address key challenges in coordinating joint telescope observations compatible across the globe.

- Review of developments with the design of the Square Kilometre Array telescope to ensure that it is technically compatible with VLBI.

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)

Through the JUMPING JIVE project, there has been improved communication across, not only the EVN but also the international VLBI community. This directly contributes to the strengthening of the network, ensuring its future relevance and sustainability. The collaboration across borders increases the capability for institutes and researchers to be involved in cutting-edge research, as well as to contribute to the continued development of the technical capability of the astronomy community.

Sharing the achievements conducted by JIVE and the EVN highlights the valuable contributions made by European institutions to research in astronomy and physics across the globe. Training and skill transfer through VLBI also holds secondary impacts in the development of accomplished researchers and engineers who are able to address key problems, whether in astronomy and physics or any other discipline.

For all partner countries, developments in VLBI present opportunities to share knowledge and technical expertise. This has a direct impact on enhancing the international intellectual capital, which influences socio-economic development far beyond astronomy alone.

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