OPTICON/RadioNet Pilot Program

The OPTICON/RadioNet Pilot Program is comprised of 19 workpakages (WPs), of which one is Management, 4 Joint Research Activies (JRAs), 12 Transational Access (TAs) and 2 Virtual Access (VAs).


There are 37 participants from Europe, Australia and South Africa.



The success of European physical science is based on participation in large-scale inter-governmental (IGO) facilities together with a federation of national scale research infrastructures (RIs). This is particularly true in the two major domains of ground-based astronomy at optical/IR and radio/sub-mm wavelengths. In the optical domain, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) (an IGO with 17 member and partner countries) provides the largest infrastructures, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and soon the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), and this is complemented by an array of nationally funded and operated facilities offering specialised capabilities. OPTICON has been the EC-funded network which has supported this complementary approach, successfully coordinating access to this multi-national network of medium-sized telescopes and running a coherent R&D programme towards new ESO instrumentation. In the radio domain, decades of strong national investment have built up an unrivalled suite of world-class instruments covering sub-mm to metre wavelengths and in recent years European partners have come together with international counterparts to build and operate ALMA, and to design and develop the SKA, due to become an IGO this year. RadioNet has been the EC-funded programme which has fostered and developed the community, supported access to and coordinated R&D for these radio facilities. The Pilot proposal, the OPTICON-RadioNet Pilot, brings together the well-established ground-based astronomy community to offer, support and develop access to radio and optical facilities in an efficient, co-ordinated and future-looking programme.


The Pilot will provide, for the first time, a coordinated and coherent plan for access to an integrated set of optical and radio facilities, including rapid response capabilities, with the development of simplified and harmonised access procedures across the spectrum, support and training for multi-wavelength astronomers, and specific developments to improve the capabilities of facilities. In both domains, these EC programmes have added significant value – supporting federated networks of facilities; building community coherence for multi-national R&D projects; providing training to new users across Europe and hence enabling world-class science.




  • Provide access to an integrated set of research infrastructures in Europe for ground-based astronomy covering the entire optical, IR, sub-mm and radio wavebands and including the full range of capabilities from survey telescopes to high-resolution interferometric arrays, equipped with state-of-the art spectroscopic, imaging or polarimetric instruments
  • Provide and develop novel access modes to enable rapid-response, automatically triggered and flexible observing modes to fully support multi-wavelength time-domain astronomy
  • Develop and implement new harmonised procedures to allow scientists to access all of these facilities via common tools for observation request and specification with a single access point, single sign-on entry
  • Support and deploy a common framework for data access and processing across multiple facilities, scalable to distributed HPC/HTC and cloud-based deployment
  • Provide dedicated professional user support to conduct the most challenging experiments, especially on more complex RIs such as ALMA and VLTI
  • Facilitate interactions between scientists, hardware and software developers, technical and operational staff across optical and radio domains
  • Train scientists across radio and optical domains, making use of new harmonised access and analysis procedures
  • Improve the services of key infrastructures with targeted technical developments, working together with industry
  • Review and understand the basis of access provision for all current and potential future facilities and infrastructures (including large-scale ESFRI facilities), the mechanisms available to enable transnational access, and the scope to enhance and sustain open access
  • Provide a European view on the impact of human-origin interference to astronomy across the spectrum, especially the potential impact of multiple low-orbit mega-constellations of communications satellites for global internet provision.


A link will be available soon to the official OPTICAL/RadioNet Pilot Program.