eso0820 — Organisation Release
Austria to join ESO on 1 July 2008
30 June 2008
Today, at a ceremony in Vienna, the Austrian Minister for Science and Research, Johannes Hahn and the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, signed the formal Accession Agreement between Austria and ESO, paving the way for Austria to join ESO as its 14th member state by 1 July this year.
"This will not only give the high-quality Austrian astronomical community full access to ESO's facilities, it will give Austrian scientists a say, together with their colleagues from the other member-states, in shaping the future of our science," said Tim de Zeeuw.
The signing of the Agreement followed the unanimous approval by the ESO Council during its meeting in Prague on 3 June and the decision by the Austrian Government on 25 June.
At the ceremony, Minister Hahn emphasised that the accession of Austria to ESO is a strong commitment to fundamental research and particularly to astronomy. "This sustainable investment enables Austrian science to gain access to a leading, international research infrastructure, and provides an important impulse for the attractiveness of Austria as a place for research," he said. "With the signature of the agreement today we bring a long discussion to a happy end and Austrian astronomy to new horizons."
Since the Agreement means accession to an international convention, the agreement must now be submitted to the Austrian Parliament for ratification.
"It is not possible to plan for radical changes, but ideal conditions will be created by this accession, which will strengthen Austrian and European astronomy. It is now for the scientists to use this opportunity," concluded the Austrian Minister.
ESO is the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere. Created in 1962, ESO provides state-of-the-art research facilities to European astronomers and is supported by thirteen member states.
ESO operates three observational sites in the Chilean Atacama desert. At La Silla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at 2400 m altitude, ESO operates several medium-sized optical telescopes. The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is located on Paranal, a 2600 m high mountain south of Antofagasta, which also hosts the VLT Interferometer and two survey telescopes, the VST and VISTA. The third site is the 5000 m high Llano de Chajnantor, near San Pedro de Atacama. Here a new submillimetre telescope (APEX) is in operation, and a giant array of 12-m submillimetre antennas (ALMA) is being constructed in collaboration with North America, East Asia and Chile. ESO is currently engaged in design studies for an Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT.
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