IDA is currently working on a strategy for Danish Astrophysics in the coming decade and the purpose is to ensure that the Ministry and the Danish Universities are aware of the importance of our membership of ESO, ESA and NOT. The strategy is based on several years of coordinated work involving the whole astrophysics community, the management at the Danish universities and the Agency for Research and Higher Education (SFU).
The strategy for Danish Astrophysics is based on the ongoing work in the IDA WG’s, and it is discussed at the IDA Board meetings and in dialogue with the Ministry and should be seen in relation to a number of ongoing national strategic activities:
- The Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) was transferred to a new organization hosted by Aarhus University and University of Turku in November 2019. It will continue to be a Nordic/national facility and IDA will become the advisory body for the Danish priorities in relation to NOT. IDA made a report on the Danish utilization of NOT – on request from the Agency for Science and Higher Education – that can be downloaded via: http://phys.au.dk/fileadmin/IDA/Udnyttelsen_Nordisk_Optisk_Teleskop.pdf. Based on this report the Agency decided to continue supporting the Danish use of NOT at a level of 400 kEUR/year. One of the key activities in respect to this is development and installation of the NTE instrument
- The use of ESO has been evaluated in 2018/2019 as part of the benefit analysis - Denmark's membership of International Research Infrastructures 2018 – followed by a plan of action - Denmark's membership of International Research Infrastructures 2019. Those reports can be found via http://phys.au.dk/fileadmin/IDA/DA_SFU_Nytteanalyse_Store_Internationale_faciliteter_03_04_2018___002_.pdf and https://ufm.dk/publikationer/2019/filer/handlingsplan-for-de-danske-medlemsskaber-af-store-internationale-forskningsinfrastrukturer.pdf. Aligned with the benefit analysis we have decided to prioritize the Danish involvement in HIRES for the ELT. The Department heads and Faculty Deans at the relevant institutions have been informed and they all express their support of the decision of prioritizing HIRES, which has also been presented to the Agency for Science and Higher Education at several meetings. The IDA WG1 on future ESO strategies will present the strategy for the “ESO section” as part of the strategy. IDA WG5 on ELT Instrumentation is working on a specific strategy for HIRES. The HIRES activity is linked to the open call for the national research infrastructure road map and it is our aim to continue a strategy that discusses the Danish research interest in ESO – with a specific focus on ELT/HIRES, ALMA and VLT.
- In relation to space activities IDA is mainly focusing on the link between space and ground. As part of the IDA advisory structure we discuss the future space science strategies for astrophysics in the IDA WG3 (The working group is dealing with the ESA Science Programme and it has been decided by the space division of the Agency for Science and Higher Education that the IDA WG3 will be the reference group for ESA SPC in the future. The reference group structure has been discussed and approved by the national space research committee (https://ufm.dk/forskning-og-innovation/rad-og-udvalg/andre-udvalg-og-fonde/Rumforskningsudvalget/medlemmer and https://ufm.dk/forskning-og-innovation/rad-og-udvalg/andre-udvalg-og-fonde/Rumforskningsudvalget/kommissorium). The main purpose of the national space research committee is to advice the Agency on space matters including funding of the non-compulsory ESA space programs/activities. In relation to and relevant for astrophysics are especially the exploration programs (ISS, Moon, Mars) and ESA PRODEX (PRODEX funded some of the EUCLID and PLATO work) and to some extent ESA GSTP (for industry collaboration). We want in IDA to ensure that there is a strategic alignment between ESA activities and the use of the ground-based facilities (ESO and NOT and other facilities, e.g. GLT and LSST). We also want to include this aspect as part of the new strategy for astrophysics in agreement with the directions we have received from the Agency/Ministry. We should of course also ensure that our work is aligned with the national space strategy.
- In 2016 Denmark got a national space strategy https://ufm.dk/publikationer/2016/filer/rumstrategi-2016.pdf. This strategy is important for funding and national priorities. The first version of the strategy and the implementation plan was mainly focused on the space market and the industry activities and not really on research and the universities. In December 2018 we got a new implementation plan for the space strategy: https://ufm.dk/publikationer/2018/filer/opfolgning-pa-rumstrategi-2018-k13.pdf. The main idea in this new plan was to form a series of partnerships between the agency (government), the industry and the universities with a focus on future space activities. All universities are invited to take part in those activities. The partnership activities are managed by the universities and IDA is not directly involved. However, decisions taken by the partners in the partnerships can and will affect the way we use space and will affect the resources that are allocated to astrophysics.
- The Agency for Science and Higher Education have decided that we will evaluate the Danish use of research infrastructures (ESO, NOT, ESA, NASA etc.) in the months to come. IDA has been asked to run this evaluation in close collaboration and coordination with the Agency. The idea is to setup the evaluation such that it can be repeated in the future with the aim of understanding the development of how Danish students and staff are using the relevant facilities.