Concerns among astronomers about budget cuts at The Hague: ‘It will be a big problem in the long term’

Concerns among astronomers about budget cuts at The Hague: ‘It will be a big problem in the long term’

Dutch astronomers are sounding the alarm: the cuts announced by the new government could have serious consequences for astronomy in the Netherlands. “We have no options to tap into other sources,” explains Joost Adema.

Adema is a project leader at the Faculty of Astronomy at the University of Groningen, working closely with, among others, ASTRON in Duingelo. The worst is feared after the new government presented its intentions in the scientific field. “It was not specifically said that we would suffer, but it was specifically stated that the plans for the sector would be addressed.”

Last year, these sectoral plans were welcomed with open arms by the sciences, including astronomy. The government has structurally allocated two hundred million euros to universities and university centres, from which astronomy in the Netherlands will also benefit greatly. “Normally we would always work on five- or ten-year projects, but these government investments have made it possible to develop long-term plans,” Adema says.

According to Adema, what is also unique in the world of astronomy is the cooperation between different institutes. In the Netherlands, this has been integrated into the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), which includes the universities of Amsterdam, Groningen, Leiden and Nijmegen. NOVA works closely with ASTRON.

“It’s always difficult to collaborate in the university world, but astronomy is a good example of how to do it,” Adema says. “Astronomy is also a harmless science. It fully satisfies your curiosity. Everyone in this science has the same ultimate goal.”

Another project in which ASTRON is involved is Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Which is being built in Chile. “One of the ELT systems, Metis, is being built and developed at Dwingeloo. This is the first tool for planning the entire project that has been approved.”

Adema believes that the most important masterpiece of the observatory in Dwingelo has not even been mentioned. “The most striking thing is LOFAR, the radio telescope between Exloo and Buinen. It consists of thousands of antennas.”

In short, is ASTRON not receiving enough resources to continue its existence? This would then impact astronomy around the world. “At NOVA, we are still working with ESO (European Organization for Astronomical Research, ed.), but these contracts extend for several years. For example, they ask to build an instrument. But five years is not long, in the long term in the long term it will cause big problems “

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