Funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation programme the OPTICON RadioNet Pilot (ORP) aims to facilitate astrophysical discoveries with a comprehensive set of Research Infrastructures in the related domains of optical and radio astronomy through supporting a harmonized access procedure, unified data interfaces, and improved services toward scientific excellence. The ORP Pilot's objectives include:
- Providing trans-national and virtual access to radio and optical facilities including rapid response capabilities.
- Improve services offered by the facilities by developing a new common framework for data access and processing and provide support and training for multi-wavelength astronomers.
- Harmonize processes by developing common standards for observation requests and implement a new single access point proposal tool with interfaces to existing proposal tools for related large astronomy facilities.
- Contributing to astronomy sustainability to raise awareness of and mitigate against the effects of low-earth satellite constellations that are impacting both radio and optical wavelengths.
The UK ATC leads and develops the optical trans-national access program for the ORP also known as OPTICON. The OPTICON telescope network currently comprises of 14 distinct optical telescopes in a size range from 0.6 to 10 metres. The program organises a series of call for proposals which aligns with the telescope observing semesters where astronomers can uniquely apply for one or multiple optical telescopes in a single proposal. The UKATC provides the management and administration for this proposal process, managing an overall budget for telescope access of 2.5 million euros.
The ORP project was launched on 24 March 2021 and will run through to March 2025. The OPTICON trans-national access was funded by previous EU contracts going back nearly two decades.