The international projects of large telescopes for the Canaries are supported by all the joint adminstrations, according to what was approved this morning in the annual meeting of the Governing Council of the IAC, celebrated in La Laguna
The Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation of the Ministry of Economics, Industry and Competitivity, Carmen Vela, at the press conference following the meeting of the Governing Council of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), celebrated today in La Laguna, emphasized the consensus reached in this joint committee on the Strategic Plan for the IAC 2018-2021, and on its most important projects. Vela was highly satisfied with the signature of the funding agreement between the Ministry and the IAC for the “Phase 1” of the CTA (Cherenkov Telescope Array) network of telescopes, which will see the construction of four 23m telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma). Phase 1 is guaranteed with contributions from the Spanish Government, plus a contribution of 15% from the Cabildo Insular (Island Parliament) of La Palma, via the Development Fund of the Canaries (FDCAN).
Vela praised the international dimension of the IAC “a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, with worldwide recognition, able to attract and keep national and international talent, to perform science at the highest level, and to rouse the interest of companies.” The Secretary of State gave the assurance that this centre, and Spanish astrophysics in general “will continue to obtain strong support from the Government of Spain”. Finally she explained that objective of the IAC Strategic Plan until 2021 is to ensure an even higher quality for the research carried out at the Institute.
Rafael Rebolo, as Director of the IAC, presented to the meeting a report on the activity in research, technological advance, and other normal indices of progress for the Institute during the past year, and the strategic plan for the next four years. “The IAC” he said “ faces the challenge of performing frontier science, and of developing valuable projects for ourselves and for our international collaborators, such as the CTA and EST project, which are qualified as strategic scientific installations for Europe. In addition we are working to attract another pioneering installation, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) which has participation from California, China, Japan, Canada, and India”. “It is logical” he added, “that everything will be possible if we can count on the support of society and its institutions. These installations no only give rise to great scientific opportunities, they also underpin programmes of technological development which contribute to create more R+D+I infrastructure in the islands”. In this context he picked out the rapid advances with the centre of technological and business cooperation “IACTEC” promoted by the IAC with the support of the Cabildo Insular (Island Parliament) of Tenerife.
The President of the Government of the Canaries Fernando Clavijo, and the Councillor for Economy, Industry, Commerce, and Knowledge, Pedro Ortega Rodríguez, also showed their support for the IAC during the meeting. “For the Government” they explained “It is fundamental to maintain this centre as an international reference and to keep the Canaries in the forefront of the field of astronomy through the IAC, so that it will remain sure of our full collaboration” The Government of the Canaries thinks that it is necessary to keep on bringing in new international investors in this sector, which will increase the attraction of these installations for research teams.
In the press conference the work of those working with the IAC to obtain additional funding for their projects was praised and, as the President commented during the meeting “they are an example which shows how excellence can produce growth in this región”. The Canary Government also announced an important economic contribution, mentioned by Pedro Ortega, to the detailed design phase of the European Solar Telescope (EST) and the Liverpool Telescope 2 (LT2).
At the meeting the Governing Council was informed of the activities carried out at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, on the Island of La Palma, which have the necessary municipal licenses and comply strictly with current law. In this context it was noted that the Canary Island Observatories are considered Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (ICTS in Spanish) for Spain, and are supported by the Agreement in Cooperation in Astrophysical Matters ratified by the national Parliament, and that their mission is to provide and support pioneering installations to carry out frontier research in Science of the Universe, guaranteeing the best natural, technological and logistic conditions, and promoting a successful framework for international cooperation, as scientific institutions from more than 20 countries are working there. The IAC, conscious of the need to protect the environment, is taking all the measures within its power to protect it and to guarantee that no contamination whatsoever is produced in the aquifers. In the case of the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory these measures include a system of vigilance carried out periodically by the Island Water Council of La Palma under agreement with the Spanish Institute of Geology and Mining.
Finally the Governing Council noted the important economic impact for the archipelago of the existence of the Canary Island Observatories. Astrophysics in the Islands generated more than 500 jobs directly, of which 150 are on the island of La Palma, figures which are exceeded by jobs which arise indirectly via contracts.
The meeting also approved the implementation of the IAC budget for 2017, for a figure of 15.74M€, and provision of funds for 2018 of 16.39M€. The contributions to the IAC foreseen for the coming year are 4.92 M€ from the Canary Island Government and 11.47M€ from the Spanish Government, subject to budget availability. The IAC obtains, with its research projects, additional funding in national and international competitions, of aroun d 10 M€ per year.
Those attending the meeting of the Governing Council: