ESO becomes a partner in Europe's largest ground-based astronomy network

31 March 2021

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has become a partner in a new project, launched last week, that has formed Europe’s largest ground-based astronomy network — the Opticon-RadioNet Pilot (ORP). This network fosters the collaboration of 37 institutions, including ESO, from Europe, Australia and South Africa. 

Within the ORP, ESO will drive knowledge transfer by organising a broad suite of training programmes for the European astronomy community, which will include observing schools across European observatories, as well as archival, instrumentation, and proposal writing workshops. In the long term, ESO will also help the ORP develop strategies to promote equal-opportunity policies and actions in the astronomy community. 

With 15 million EUR of funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the ORP merges two existing astronomy networks (Opticon and RadioNet) to bring together several telescopes and arrays from around the world, providing European astronomers access to a wide range of instruments and training for those early in their career. ESO’s share of the funding will go towards the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) support infrastructures, allowing astronomers to access user-support services in the ALMA Regional Centre Network. It will also be used to develop new research and analysis tools for ESO interferometers, and to deploy a training programme targeting early-career astronomes. 

Through the ORP, two astronomy communities observing at different wavelengths will be brought together in a huge collaboration. This will allow for the birth of new ideas and collaborations that will ultimately result in a more efficient and productive usage of the ESO facilities, in synergy with the overall European optical and radio observatories infrastructure,” says ESO astronomer and ALMA European Operations Manager Leonardo Testi, who is ESO’s main point of contact for the ORP initiative.

The ORP project is coordinated by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), who manage the network together with the University of Cambridge, UK and the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Germany. 

More Information

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004719.

ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), MOST and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ. 


Leonardo Testi
European Southern Observatory
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6541

Andrew Williams
ESO External Relations Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 062 78

Bárbara Ferreira
ESO Media Manager
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6670

About the Announcement



Arching over ALMA
Arching over ALMA
Aerial view of the VLTI with tunnels superimposed
Aerial view of the VLTI with tunnels superimposed