OPTICON FP7 (2013-2016) WP7 - Transnational Access

Within the OPTICON contract, its Trans-National Access programme is moving towards even greater integration and coordination of the participating telescopes. As part of this move, the funding for the programme has been pooled, and the proposals for OPTICON time at all the telescopes are being reviewed together by a single international Time Allocation Committee (TAC) to ensure network-wide competition and uniform review criteria.

We have developed a programme, with expenditure in simplifying technical aspects of proposal preparation, and with increased training support, focussed on new and currently isolated users. Uniquely in global astronomy, the WP will implement a central trans-national multi-observatory peer-review process, in order to ensure high-quality peer review, together with sensitive treatment of all proposals, to ensure projects are allocated to the highest quality appropriate technical facility. It will provide positive feedback where needed, with this feedback informing the training programme. As a complementary step, OPTICON will work with the strategic planning ERANET AstroNet to develop a strategic plan for the future viability and excellence of the infrastructures. Europe has many mid-sized telescopes, largely for historical reasons. This dilutes funding, and disperses users. A rationalisation, ensuring that the subset of the highest technical quality telescopes, equipped with a complementary suite of state of the art instruments, are funded fully, is both desirable and necessary. A preliminary step is to migrate under-resourced users onto the best facilities. The access and training work (WP7 and WP12) addresses that. The other step is to develop a rational and viable optimisation strategy, taking into account the needs of funding agencies and the whole (potential) user community. OPTICON will work with AstroNet to deliver that vision as a reality.

The WP leader is John Davies (UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh)

NOTSA is also involved in the TNA; see link to the NOT home page: http://www.not.iac.es

The Call for Proposals 2016B closed on 2 March at 23.59 UT.

If OPTICON receives a Horizon 2020 grant we will immediately launch an 2017A call for proposals and send out a mailshot to regular users. Any such call may only be open for two weeks as we will by then be four-five weeks late opening the call. It will be necessary to expedite the process to mesh with the regular national telescope evaluation timescales.