Cherenkov Telescope Array – participation of the Czech Republic (CTA-Czech)


Background description

CTA is a European and international research infrastructure in astroparticle physics. It will enable the discovery of a large number of new astrophysical sources of gamma rays and determination of their characteristics. The research community of the Czech Republic is significantly involved in CTA preparation; namely the Czech researchers develop telescope mirrors as well as evaluate candidate sites for CTA location. Their participation in CTA includes involvement in organizational structures, expert panels and CTA scientific groups. The Czech research community developed the all-sky cameras and innovative methods for the analysis of satellite images in order to identify the optimal location for CTA. The research community of the Czech Republic will also continue in monitoring the atmosphere during the CTA operation, when another camera system with robotic telescopes (all provided by the Czech Republic) shall define detailed cloudiness conditions in real time during CTA observation. The CTA mirror prototypes and optical samples are extensively tested in the optical laboratory of the Palacký University in Olomouc and the Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Czech opticians develop technology for future production of mirrors for the so-called Small Size Telescopes (SST), drawing on the expertise from the Pierre Auger Observatory. With respect to providing computing resources for CTA, the collaboration with CESNET e-infrastructure plays an important role.

Future development

The CTA is currently at the beginning of its construction phase, which is envisaged for 2016–2020. The final design and management decisions concerning the location, exact layout and technical realization should be finalized soon, so that the production of all CTA components can start simultaneously with development of the chosen sites (La Palma – Canary Islands, Paranal in Chile). This encompasses ground work, setting up infrastructure and engineering networks as well as production of experimental components such as telescopes, cameras, mirrors and various auxiliary devices. The Czech research community will continue in its activities, namely it will prepare several systems for the central calibration of CTA, and will participate in the production and deployment of SST mirrors.

Socio-economic impact

The Czech Republic has been involved in CTA especially by the production of components for the camera systems used for selection of the CTA final location. The participation of the Czech Republic in CTA is important from the point of view of the long history of development of optical elements in the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the Czech involvement is crucial for ensuring the excellent level of astroparticle physics in the Czech research organizations.

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