CTA-DEV Project

EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme Grant

Project Number: CTA-DEV GA 676134


Project Acronym: CTA-DEV


Project Title: Cherenkov Telescope Array: Infrastructure Development and Start of Implementation

Cherenkov Telescope Array: Infrastructure Development and Start of Implementation


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programs under Grant Agreement No 676134.


Call: H2020-INFRADEV-1-2015-1

Topic: INFRADEV-3-2015


Maximum Grant Amount: EUR 4,257,813.00


Sole Beneficiary: CTAO gGmbH


Start Date: 01.07.2015

End Date: 31.12.2020



The objective of the CTA-DEV Project was to promote and speed up the implementation of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) astronomical facility, specifically for its southern hemisphere site in northern Chile (CTA-South), by addressing the following bottlenecks identified by the ESFRI High Level Expert Group: “Site preparation/site infrastructure to address the specific challenge of characterising and surveying remote sites in the southern hemisphere, designing and implementing site infrastructure, defining appropriate long term agreements with host country, and preparing for construction to begin.”


CTA Southern Hemisphere Site Rendering; credit: Gabriel Pérez Diaz, IAC / Marc-André Besel, CTAO


In more detail, CTA-DEV Project objectives addressed the following four critical areas:

  • Completion of the characterisation of sites, and detailed design and planning of the site-specific infrastructure, required to operate the telescopes which are provided as in-kind contributions by CTA parties (WP2);
  • Planning the deployment process of infrastructure and telescopes and execution of this plan on the first pre-production telescopes, providing a solid basis for the following mass deployment of telescopes, at the same time further developing and verifying the model for site operations (WP3);
  • Providing the legal basis for approval and deployment of CTA by creating the required Founding Agreement, hosting agreements, and framework contracts (WP4);
  • Implementing local outreach programmes in the host countries and defining the outreach infrastructure required, promoting relations with host country stakeholders at government, commercial, and public levels (WP5).

The CTA-DEV Project aim was to ensure and expedite the implementation of the CTA facility by providing adequate resources for planning and management and enabling the CTAO gGmbH to address these critical areas, up to the first stages of implementation.


The objective of WP1 is the overall management of the CTA-DEV Project and project administration, including: scheduling, budgeting, finance tracking, contract management, quality assurance, external reviews, reporting, and communications with the Commission.

The objectives of this work package are site characterization, infrastructure design and planning, prior and after the site decision, as well as advancing systems design (with special focus on Reliability, Availability and Maintainability) of all components part of the final site infrastructure.


Detailed planning of infrastructure deployment and management of the implementation of this plan on the pre-production telescopes.


This work package covers two areas: the legal aspects of specific agreements that we currently know will have to be completed prior implementation; and general ad-hoc legal advice, particularly relevant to procurement and site permits.

Investigation of outreach possibilities in the host country and implications for infrastructure design resulting from this investigation. Implementation of stakeholder management and communication to ensure that local communities and other stakeholders are adequately considered and engaged. Start-up of general outreach.




The CTA-DEV project has proven to be an essential step towards realizing the CTA Observatory by providing funding in an interim period for several under-funded aspects to actually lunch construction of the facility and prevent these issues becoming barriers to timely implementation. The project addressed several bottlenecks in the field of site preparation and characterization of the remote southern site in the Atacama Desert, optimizing technical components and detailed planning of infrastructure, setting up the legal frameworks and enhancing our communications concepts.


The specific impact of the CTA-DEV Project has been achieved with:

  • Detailed site characterisation prior to deployment allowing a fine-tuning of the array layout, minimizing risks and avoiding difficulties and delays during deployment.
  • Planning of the site infrastructure and of deployment logistics ensures that first pre-production telescopes will be deployed relying on the final site infrastructure and logistics, rather than on ad-hoc solutions.
  • Sophisticated RAMS and requirements analysis enhanced the foreseen technical implementation and component selection, resulting in a more reliable and cost-effective observatory with minimized future operation costs.
  • Preparation of agreements and documents required for implementation of CTA, such as the hosting agreements, the In-kind contributions framework agreement and the Cost Book. Legal support during the process of transitioning the interim legal entity to the CTAO ERIC, and headquarters relocation to Bologna, Italy
  • Management of host country relations and of outreach activities in the host countries ensuring good relations with host country decision-makers, the community and the neighbouring population, minimizing friction during deployment and maximising local impact.

Therefore, CTA-DEV has significantly helped the Observatory in the progress towards construction and promoting the decision by the agencies to approve the implementation of the CTA facility.