A Science Vision for European Astronomy in the Next 20 Years

Astronet Symposium

A Science Vision for European Astronomy in the Next 20 Years

January 23-25, 2007, Poitiers, France


Background Information

The ASTRONET effort has been initiated by a group of European funding Agencies in order to establish a comprehensive long-term planning for the development of European astronomy. It has been selected and is financially supported by the European Commission under its FP6 program. The overall objective is to consolidate and reinforce the highly competitive position that European astronomy has attained at the beginning of this 21st Century. Integral to ASTRONET needs is to establish a common Science Vision for the next 20 years, followed by a detailed Infrastructure Roadmap to attain the scientific goals.

The Science Vision draft has being distilled by thematic Panels drawn from the astronomical Community and put on-line on December 17, 2006. It covers all astrophysical domains and both ground and space based observing means (relying mainly on the ESA Cosmic Vision for the latter). A comprehensive co-ordination effort is also ongoing with the Astroparticle Community. A web-based discussion Forum on the "future scientific challenges in Astronomy" has been opened on the ASTRONET site, also on 17 December, in preparation for the Symposium.

Symposium Goals and Means

The 2.5 day Symposium on "future scientific challenges in Astronomy" has been aimed at getting essential feedback from the European astronomical community at large to refine and consolidate the scientific goals of European Astronomy for the next two decades. It was held on January 23 - 25 (morning) at the Futuroscope Palais des Congrès near Poitiers (France). The Symposium programme featured in particular parallel sessions between the four ASTRONET science panels enlarged to enclose all participants. Note also that the status of the similar US planning exercise was presented by G. Illingworth. Deep thanks for all Symposium participants for their invaluable help and to the various Panel and Science Vision Working Group members for their major intellectual investment!

Following the Symposium, the ASTRONET Science Panels will complete their task, delivering the 'Science Vision' to the European Commission by end April 2007. This in turn will be the major input for the Infrastructure Roadmap Panels that are being put into place as of end January 2007.


Registration closed on January 16, 2007. 228 Participants from 31 European Countries came to Poitiers and contributed to the refining of the draft Science Vision through lively discussions, especially within the enlarged Panels Session. Nearly all presentations are now on-line and can be accessed from the Symposium programme page. Further comments on all aspects of the Science Vision can be sent out from the Forum or directly to the relevant Panel chair or co-chair until 15 February 2007. The final Science Vision document is expected to be finalized by end April 2007 and will then be posted on the Astronet pages.