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What is ASTRONET ?

ASTRONET was created by a group of European funding agencies in order to establish a strategic planning mechanism for all of European astronomy. It covers the whole astronomical domain, from the Sun and Solar System to the limits of the observable Universe, and from radioastronomy to gamma-rays and particles, on the ground as well as in space; but also theory and computing, outreach, training and recruitment of the vital human resources. And, importantly, ASTRONET aims to engage all astronomical communities and relevant funding agencies on the new map of Europe.

ASTRONET has been supported by the EC since 2005 as an ERA-NET. Despite the formidable challenges of establishing such a comprehensive plan, ASTRONET reached that goal with the publication of its Infrastructure Roadmap in November 2008. Building on this remarkable achievement, the present project will proceed to the implementation stage, a very significant new step towards the coordination and integration of European resources in the field.

The objectives are:

- to establish a permanent mechanism for planning and coordination in European astronomy;
- to follow-up and implement the Roadmap, thus ensuring the construction of the new facilities that are needed to keep Europe at the forefront of scientific knowledge and at the same time optimise existing programmes in scientific as well as financial terms;
- to narrow the scientific and – in particular - technology gaps between the European countries;
- to establish a regularly updated data base with key information on the financial and human resources available to astronomy in all European countries, as well as the structure and governance of astronomical research in each country.

The ASTRONET consortium, has eleven participants, Twenty one Associates and two Forum members at the moment.

Starting January 2011, 1st, ASTRONET is funded as an ERA-Net by the European Commission at a level of 1.6 M under the FP7 initiative «Integrating and Strengthening the European Research Area (ERA)» for a duration of 48 months, then extended to 54 months.