Europe has become a global leader in optical-near infrared astronomy through excellence in space and ground-based experimental and theoretical research. While the major infrastructures are delivered through major national and multi-national agencies (ESO, ESA) their continuing scientific competitiveness requires a strong community of scientists and technologists distributed across Europe’s nations.
OPTICON has a proven record supporting European astrophysical excellence through development of new technologies, through training of new people, through delivering open access to the best infrastructures, and through strategic planning for future requirements in technology, innovative research methodologies, and trans-national coordination.
Europe’s scientific excellence depends on continuing effort developing and supporting the distributed expertise across Europe - this is essential to develop and implement new technologies and ensure instrumentation and infrastructures remain cutting edge.
Excellence depends on continuing effort to strengthen and broaden the community, through networking initiatives to include and then consolidate European communities with more limited science expertise.
Excellence builds on training actions to qualify scientists from European communities which lack national access to state of the art research infrastructures to compete successfully for use of the best available facilities.
Excellence depends on access programmes which enable all European scientists to access the best infrastructures needs-blind, purely on competitive merit.
Global competitiveness and the future of the community require early planning of long-term sustainability, awareness of potentially disruptive technologies, and new approaches to the use of national-scale infrastructures under remote or robotic control.
OPTICON will continue to promote this excellence, global competitiveness and long-term strategic planning.