On June 30, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) decided to include the Einstein Telescope (ET) in the 2021 upgrade of its roadmap. The BIST centre IFAE is part of the ET Steering Committee and among the institutions that has signed a memorandum of understanding for contributing to the construction of the experiment.
The ESFRI decision confirms the relevance of this major international project for a next generation gravitational waves observatory, for the future of research infrastructures in Europe, and for gravitational wave research at a global level.
The Research Infrastructure Consortium Coordinators, Antonio Zoccoli of INFN and Stan Bentvelsen of Nikhef, are extremely excited about this result.
“We are very pleased for this important result: the ESFRI approval acknowledges the value of our project and strengthens ET at the European level”, says Zoccoli. “We will work synergistically for its development, confident that it is strategic to foster our knowledge of the universe, technological innovation and social growth.”
“ESFRI status is a major step toward the realisation of this European project”, says Bentvelsen, “Scientifically the Einstein Telescope is undisputed, and with the ESFRI status there is indispensable recognised support for its quality and impact. We are looking ahead to further develop the plans together with all countries involved.”
The Italian government submitted the proposal on September 9th, 2020, supported by the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Spain.
“The preparation of the proposal has been a two years large effort involving several research institutions and universities, now composing the Einstein Telescope consortium, belonging to ten European countries and having real interdisciplinary competences,” says Michele Punturo, Coordinator of the ET-ESFRI proposal preparation.
Several of the people involved were invited to present the plans in order to elaborate on specific aspects of the project and to answer the ESFRI evaluation committee’s questions. Among them was Marica Branchesi, member of the ET-ESFRI proposal preparation team. “We have worked hard to develop the science case of ET. Each simulation showed us the enormous capabilities of ET observing the Universe. ET will revolutionise our knowledge in fundamental physics, astrophysics, and cosmology”, says Branchesi.
The Einstein Telescope was chosen after a long and accurate process of evaluation and selection. During the ESFRI assembly meeting, delegates officially decided to include the Einstein Telescope in their roadmap. This official European approval brings the project into a new phase. The scientific institutions involved are from ten countries (Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, The Netherland, UK) and will now have to intensify their research and development work on the Einstein Telescope and gravitational waves. Ongoing subsurface studies for the characterisation and evaluation of the candidate sites that could host the underground infrastructure will also be sped up.
Spanish involvement in the Einstein Telescope
“This is a great success for the gravitational wave community in Spain as a whole,” says Mario Martinez, researcher at the BIST centre IFAE researcher and member of the Einstein Telescope Steering Committee that prepared the ESFRI proposal.
An effort was made in early 2020 to gather support for the Einstein Telescope among Spanish research groups. It was a great success with some 23 institutions expressing a strong interest in participating in the project, including four ICTs (Singular Research Infrastructures) in Spain. Altogether, this translated into Spain formally supporting the ESFRI candidature. Now ET is a recognised infrastructure in the 2021 ESFRI roadmap.
Spain’s interest in gravitational wave physics with ground-based experiments has increased enormously over the last decade. Spanish scientists have contributed to studies determining the physics potential of ET and are now part of the working groups designing the experiment. A number of Spanish institutions have already signed a memorandum of understanding for contributing to the construction of the experiment including IFAE, CSIC, ICE, IEM, IFT, ICCUB, UIB, and UV.
With the ESFRI recognition one can foresee the growth of the ET community and a fast and energetic involvement of Spanish institutions in the design and construction of the experiment. In addition to a top physics programme, which will change our view and understanding of the universe, the ET project offers great opportunities in terms of technological developments and industrial returns.
More information can be found on the IFAE website.