The recently-released ASTRONET Science Vision and Infrastructure Roadmap 2022-2035 includes the CTAO as the top-ranked priority amongst new ground-based infrastructure projects. The strategic plan highlights that “as the first true large-scale observatory targeting these [very high] energies, it [the CTAO] is expected to lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of the origins and production of non-thermal particles in the Universe.” The ASTRONET roadmap provides an overview of the status of European Astronomy, as well as recommendations to funding agencies for the next decade, based on the priorities of the community.

The 2022-2035 roadmap emphasizes CTAO’s unique capabilities and the strong support it receives from the community. Moreover, it stresses how the Observatory will be a key facility to address important science questions, such as the exploration of fundamental physics, including the nature of dark matter, the origin and acceleration of cosmic rays, the formation and evolution of compact objects, among others.

The CTAO was included in the previous ASTRONET 2008 roadmap as a priority for medium-sized ground-based facilities. The repeated inclusion of the Observatory as a priority within the European astronomy roadmap reflects the continuing interest of the scientific community in the CTAO and its potential to unravel great scientific unknowns.

The CTAO organization is expected to become a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) before fall 2023. The launch of the CTAO ERIC initiates the official beginning of the construction phase of the Observatory, which will be the first open ground-based gamma-ray observatory on the planet.

“The construction of the CTAO will begin soon – the commitment of the countries is clear and the financing for the construction is confirmed, while the technical aspects and the management plans are almost finished,” explains Federico Ferrini, Managing Director of CTAO gGmbH. “The competences already assumed by the designated Director General of the CTAO ERIC, Stuart McMuldroch, reassures the timely completion of this transition and beginning of construction, which will open exciting times for science.”

ASTRONET is a group of European funding agencies, community representatives and infrastructures working together as a forum for coordination for all aspects of European Astronomy. Formed in the early 2000’s with EU funding, it was responsible for the first European Science Vision and Infrastructure Roadmaps (2007/8) and their revisions (2013/14). It currently includes representatives from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and ESO. The European Astronomical Society (EAS), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the SKAO are also observers, and it has connections to independent research consortia such as the AstroParticle Physics European Consortium (APPEC), the Opticon Radionet Pilot (ORP) and Europlanet.

Read the full roadmap on the ASTRONET’s website.

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The “Strategic Plan for European Astronomy” Ranks the CTAO as Highest Priority in Ground-based Astronomy - CTAO