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Media invitation


Astronomy looks into the future:
the role of European Infrastructures

Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE)
Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
6-7 July 2005

Brussels 27 May 2005

WHAT? Press briefing on European Research Infrastructures in Astronomy
WHEN? Thursday 7 July 2005 (arrival 6 July p.m. at Amsterdam airport and transfer to site)
WHERE? Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE), Dwingeloo (North of the Netherlands)
WHO? Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research
Maria van der Hoeven, Minister for Education, Culture and Research, NL
Leading EU astronomers and astronomy research teams

Held on 7 July in one of the world’s most advanced astronomy installations, the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE), in Dwingeloo in the North of the Netherlands, this press briefing is the second of a series of events focusing on European Research Infrastructures. European Research Infrastructures (RIs) are a fundamental tool in the development and transmission of scientific knowledge, and in the emergence of new technologies, materials and products. They represent a critical mass in physical and human investment, and are at the heart of regional, national and European economic and industrial performance. They are a key focus of Community-funded research, which promotes the development of world-class infrastructures and their optimum use on a European scale.

This press briefing will focus specifically on the impact of RI’s in the area of astronomy. The most ancient science to be pursued by mankind, astronomy has always been driven by technological innovation. New technological advances lead to new discoveries, but also to new questions. With its world class astronomy infrastructures, Europe is at the forefront of this quest. It is a leader in technological innovation applied to astronomical instrumentation, but also with very real industrial applications. In particular, the EU funds a number of key projects through its Framework Programme in support of existing and new infrastructures of European (and international) relevance for optical astronomy, radio astronomy, planetology and astroparticle physics.

The 7 July briefing will bring together the European Press and the Astronomical Community to celebrate Europe’s successes, and look together at exciting future developments. Joining the EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik and the Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Research Maria van der Hoeven, will be leading EU scientists and astronomers and coordinators of EU research projects. In addition to keynote and project presentations, participants will discover the latest developments in EU optical astronomy, radio astronomy, astrophysics and planetary sciences (including the latest analysis of data from the Cassini-Huygens mission). A visit of some of the world leading radio astronomy installations (JIVE and the Westerbork Array) and a presentation of the next generation astronomy infrastructures (including the Extremely Large Telescope and Square Kilometre Array) will complete the programme.


This high level briefing will offer participants a full and exciting package:

  • Keynotes by Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research, and Maria van der Hoeven Minister for Education, Culture and Research, The Netherlands
  • Interview opportunities with Commissioner, Minister, and leading EU astronomers
  • Presentations of ongoing EU Research projects in astronomy, including:
    • RadioNet, a network that gathers all leading radio astronomy facilities in Europe, pooling together a broad range of skills, resources and expertise, to ensure a coherent and integrated approach for enhanced scientific and engineering collaboration
    • OPTICON, a project which brings together all the national agencies and international organisations which fund, operate, and develop Europe’s optical and infrared astronomical telescopes, instruments and observatories;
    • ILIAS: gathering scientists from across Europe in the new and exciting field of astroparticle physics, merging astrophysics and particle physics, this project plays a key role in the direct detection of natural radiations and particles in the Universe;
    • EuroPlaNet, aims at enhancing the science return from EU and international planetary missions, through the long term integration of EU groups active in planetary science.
  • Presentations of new results from the tracking of the Huygens probe via a world-wide network of radio telescopes, during its descent on Titan on 14 January 2005
  • Presentation of the next generation of astronomy infrastructures, in which Europe plays a key role, with in particular:
    • Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), a very ambitious project for an optical telescope of 80-100 meters in diameter;
    • Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the next step in radio astronomy through the construction of an array of radio telescopes of completely new concept;
    • Enhancement of the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA), currently under construction in the Chilean Atacama desert, and
    • Virtual Observatory, another important ESO-led project with strong EC contribution
  • Visits to the installations of JIVE and the Westerbork radio astronomy array, one of the largest in the world, including the formal “decommissioning” of older correlating technologiesand inauguration of the new networked technologies using GEANT and GRID.
  • Discussions and sharing experience with leading EU radio and optical astronomers


For additional information on this press briefing, including detailed timed programme and logistics aspects, please contact

Patrick Vittet-Philippe,
Press and Information Officer,
DG Research, European Commission
Tel: +32.2.2969056 Mobile + 32 477 274663

To participate in this briefing, please return the form enclosed in annex (by mail or fax)




Astronomy looks into the future:
the role of European Infrastructures

Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe
Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
6-7 July 2005

OR FAX BACK to + 32 2 295 8220

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