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IP/05/868

Brussels, 7 July 2005

Astronomy projects help Europe look to the future

One of the world’s most advanced astronomy installations, the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE) in Dwingeloo, Netherlands, today hosts an information day on the advances that European research infrastructures have brought into the areas of optical astronomy, radio astronomy, planetology and astroparticle physics. Participants will learn about European-funded projects which are leading the way in the quest to peer into the primordial universe, discover tantalising traces of the Big Bang and explore the mysteries of dark matter, gravitational waves and extra-solar planets. European research infrastructure link scientists and cutting-edge installations across borders and scientific disciplines to expand knowledge, for example by combining the signals from radio telescopes across several continents to create a giant radio telescope the size of the earth.

Present at the briefing, European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik said, “Research infrastructures play a significant role in generating knowledge. They provide the right conditions for research and help create critical mass. This is as true for fundamental research in areas such as astronomy as it is for technological and industrial innovation. Our proposal for a Seventh Framework Programmes looks to increase the development of a wide range of infrastructures at European level”.

European research infrastructures are the major instruments, installations and facilities that provide top class research services to support the work of scientists in a wide spectrum of areas, from materials science to astronomy, from biomedical applications to the protection of our cultural heritage. Research infrastructures in their different forms – single-sited, distributed or virtual – combine hardware (scientific equipment), software (large digital scientific libraries or databases and technical support, as well as creating an environment within which scientists from all over Europe can carry out their work and exchange ideas.

With their scientific, technological and human capacities, European research infrastructures are at the forefront of knowledge creation and transmission. Attracting and networking researchers from all over Europe and beyond, they enable the scientific community to pool talent, maximise resources and generate a strategic vision of research in the European Research Area.

The projects presented today demonstrate how European research infrastructures, by enabling better understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe, contribute to new technologies and processes that can benefit European industry.

Details of the projects presented at the briefing can be found in MEMO/05/240.


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