Request for community inputs for an ASTRON-led NWO Research Infrastructure grant application in 2023-2024

This form is to collect inputs from the broad Dutch astronomical community on plans for an ASTRON-led application for an NWO Research Infrastructure grant in 2023-2024.

In line with the Strategic Plan for Astronomy in The Netherlands 2021-2030, ASTRON is identifying ways to retain the current strong role of our community over the full wavelength range. The upcoming NWO Research Infrastructure grant is a major funding opportunity towards realizing this ambition.

For context, the NWO-RI grant was previously called the NWO-Groot, and ASTRON made a successful application for the DUPLLO (Digital Upgrade for Premier LOFAR Low-band Observing) project in 2019. The link to the previous NWO-RI call in 2021-2022 can be found here:

The next NWO-RI call is expected in mid to late 2023, and a funding request to NWO is expected to be about 3 MEur, plus at least 25% matching by ASTRON and other partners.

Please use this form to convey to us your ideas about compelling projects that fit well within the NWO-RI funding instrument. Be creative and ambitious, but realize that the available funding imposes boundary conditions on what is feasible. So if your head is in the clouds, make sure that your feet are also on the ground.

For early career researchers (ECRs), we recognize the timescale of this project is likely longer than your time as researcher in the Netherlands. However, you have a valuable perspective and we would still appreciate your input. For example, you can think about what infrastructure/capabilities would have improved your PhD/postdoc research.

Example NWO-RI projects you may consider could be related to, e.g.:
  • Further developing the Dutch capacity to participate in the European VLBI Network (EVN) by upgrading facilities at the Westerbork site. One can think of, e.g., the installation of an SKA dish to expand frequency coverage to high frequencies (5-25 GHz).
  • Further developing the ability to image the full LOFAR field of view at the maximum possible angular resolution provided by the international stations.
  • Expanding the LOFAR data transport network to capitalize on the increased computing power that is being installed at the stations via the DUPLLO project. This could be used to expand the field-of-view by a factor of 4, while also using both LBA and HBA arrays.
  • Developing software and systems for a node of the SKA Science Regional Centres (SRCs).
...but these are just some examples to inspire you. Don't feel constrained by them.

The process and timeline of this community consultation are as follows:
  • August/September 2022: collect inputs from the community using this form.
  • Late September / early October 2022: a delegation from ASTRON, and including Director Dr. Jessica Dempsey, will be visiting the universities for open Town Hall meetings to discuss ideas and answer questions. The inputs received in this Google form will be important for setting the stage, but the discussions will not be limited to discussing only the submitted ideas.
  • November 2022: the NRAAC (Netherlands Radio Astronomy Advisory Committee) will be consulted for advice and comments on the proposed options. They will communicate this to the ASTRON Director and Management Team.
  • December 2022: ASTRON Director, Dr. Jessica Dempsey, will announce the selected plan and thereby kick-off the more detailed preparatory work.
Please include your inputs below (using "N/A" if you have nothing to add for a particular question), and thank you for your time and engagement!
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Your full name
Your affiliation(s)
Your email address
Are you writing on behalf of a larger team or community? If so, please feel free to provide such information and other specific names (and email addresses) here.
Describe in broad strokes your idea for new radio astronomical infrastructure funded through an NWO-RI grant.
What are the primary scientific goals of your proposed NWO-RI project?
What are the primary technical and/or algorithmic challenges of your proposed NWO-RI project? Think about what hardware, software and techniques need to be developed and in what way they are innovative.
In what ways does your proposed NWO-RI project build on strengths in the Dutch (radio) astronomical community? (this include scientific and technical expertise)
In what ways does your proposed NWO-RI project leverage existing hardware and software infrastructure?
In what ways does your proposed NWO-RI project serve a sizeable scientific community within the Netherlands and beyond? (think about both early career and more senior researchers)
Considering the international context of radio astronomical infrastructures, in what ways will your NWO-RI project be unique and impactful?
In what ways can you contribute to preparing an NWO-RI project application? Think of, e.g., helping with guiding the preparatory (explorative) work, fleshing out the scientific case, preparing a proof-of-concept, and writing parts of the actual proposal.
In what ways could your proposed project add to ASTRON’s commitments to scientific and technical achievement that also: contribute to our broader society and community needs; are more environmentally sound and sustainable; develop greater diversity, equity and representation at all levels of our projects and organizations? *
What questions or topics would you like the ASTRON team to address at the Town Hall discussions? *
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