Bologna, Italy – On 6 September 2023, the Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory’s (CTAO’s) two governing bodies, the Board of Governmental Representatives (BGR) and the CTAO gGmbH Council, gathered to agree on the significant forthcoming measures to advance the Observatory to its construction phase. During the meeting, both bodies unanimously certified their commitment to the progress of the CTAO, including a foreseen endorsement of up to approximately 30 million euro for 2024. This represents a significant increase in annual funding, which will enable the Observatory to not only move forward with substantial infrastructure development but also to double its workforce.
The CTAO is in the process of a two-step application to transition from a gGmbH (under the German law) to a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC, under the European law). While the first step has been completed, discussions with the European Commission concerning the second step are still ongoing. The agreement between the BGR, comprised of representatives of the future legal entity’s member countries, and the CTAO gGmbH Council, allows the project to proceed in the meantime.
“While we continue to work towards obtaining the ERIC status, the member countries and organisations within the BGR are prepared to advance the project to its next phase,” explains Aldo Covello, Chair of the BGR. Markus Schleier, Chair of the CTAO gGmbH Council, stated: “The pledge of the BGR and the agreement we have reached in the Council will not only ensure the stability of the project but will undoubtedly help the CTAO attract new talent and investment as it continues to grow.”
The current legal entity of the CTAO, the CTAO gGmbH, and its partners have carried out extensive design and pre-construction activities, including the advancement of telescopes, such as the LST-1, the prototype of the Large-Sized Telescope under commissioning on the CTAO-North site in La Palma, Spain. In 2024, the Observatory plans to open at least 30 new positions and start major infrastructure development including building roads, power systems, and foundations for its southern array site in the Atacama Desert (Chile). Together with the very important developments in the northern array site, this represents a major milestone for the project.
These steps will bring the Observatory closer to realizing its planned 64 telescopes, which will deliver an unprecedented sensitivity in the quest to unveil new discoveries in the high-energy gamma-ray Universe.