Newsletter Issue 09/2020


                  Stay healthy and safe!

Coronavirus COVID-19

Operation of RadioNet and its infrastructures is recovering. However, most of the planned events are postponed until 2021 - see our calendar:

• 43rd COSPAR Scientific Assembly -> February 2, 2021

• 6th LOFAR Data Processing School -> March 22, 2021

• 6th Workshop on CSS and GPS -> May 12, 2021

• Compact Objects and Energetic Phenomena in the Multi-Messanger Era -> June 23, 2021

• 15th EVN Symposium -> July 12, 2021

Possible hint of life on Venus

Possible hint of life on Venus

Phosphine gas (PH3) has been detected in the clouds of Venus (Greaves, J.S., Richards, A.M.S., Bains, W. et al., Nat Astron (2020)). The absorption line at 267 GHz was first seen in JCMT spectra, and followed up with ALMA in 2019. The line-shape indicates that it arises at 50-60 km above the surface, where the temperature and pressure are within 'terrestrial' ranges but the atmosphere is vastly more acid than Earth's. After exhaustive modelling, the presence of even a few parts per billion of PH3 could not be explained by steady-state chemistry, photochemical pathway, volcanism, meteoric delivery or the effects of lightning. Some routes might form tiny traces of PH3 but it would react rapidly with the violently oxidising atmosphere of Venus. Thus, some mechanism must be replenishing the PH3 supply and the detection of a non-equilibrium mixture of gases has long been considered a possible marker of life, especially as it is known to be produced biologically on Earth. We look forward to the possibility of follow-up observations with ALMA and eventually to space missions to investigate further this tantalising result.

RadioNet (MARCUs) supported Prof. Jane Greaves (Cardiff University) in visiting the UK ALMA Regional Centre to analyse the data.


Text © Anita Richards (Uni. Manchester) – leader of the RadioNet Training Activity

Images © Main picture - Joanna Pętkowska, PhD, Background - Akatsuki (Japan) orbiter, The spectra - ALMA and JCMT



SOFIA is flying again!

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a joint German Aerospace Center (DLR) – NASA (US) space science project. A 2.7-metre telescope inside a modified Boeing 747SP allows to perform astronomical observations in the infrared and submillimetre wavelengths, high above the disturbance of Earth's atmosphere. The main scientific goal is to understand the development of galaxies and the formation and evolution of stars and planetary systems from interstellar clouds of gas and dust.

Due to pandemic the flights were suspended from March 19 until August 16, 2020. Read more

Image © NASA/C. Thomas

E-Merlin: Call for Cycle 11 open

e-MERLIN: Call for Cycle 11 open

e-MERLIN requests proposals from the international astronomical community for observations to be made during Cycle-11. Proposals are competitively peer-reviewed under standard STFC rules by the e-MERLIN PATT Time Allocation Committee. All awards will be made on the basis of scientific merit and technical feasibility alone. Full proposal call text here.

Submission deadline: November 5, 2020.

INAF: Call for Proposals open

INAF: Call for Proposals open

The Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) invites scientists to participate in the call for proposals of observing time at the three national radio telescopes:

- the 32-m Medicina antenna
- the 32-m Noto antenna
- the 64-m Sardinia Radio Telescope

The three telescopes can be used as single dish for spectroscopic and continuum observations as well as for VLBI, outside the standard networks coordination (EVN, IVS, etc.) which have their own time allocations.

Instructions on the submission procedure, current latex forms and characteristics of the instruments currently available can be found here.

Submission deadline: October 5, 2020.


SKA Update

• SKA has completed all final reviews ahead of construction

• The dates of the 2021 SKA science conference have been announced – March 15-19, 2021. It will be held fully virtually

• SKAO is inviting registration of interest from researchers to take part in the SKA Science Data Challenge 2. Teams can register here.

• The 5th issue of the SKA quaterly magazine Contact has been published



Shape the Horizon Europe

The European Commission launched a survey to collect the input from across Europe and beyond to help validate impacts, spark debates and new ideas. The results were discussed among others at the European Research and Innovation Days (September 22-24, 2020). The survey outcomes will be used for the design of Horizon Europe’s first Strategic Plan. Horizon Europe is the next EU research and innovation programme. It will launched in 2021 and it will strengthen the EU’s scientific and technological bases, boost its innovation capacity and deliver on Europeans’ priorities.

R&I Days 2020 – registration open

European Research and Innovation Days –  September 22-24, 2020, this year fully virtual. The annual flagship event of the European Commission brought together policy makers, researchers, and the public to debate and shape the future of research and innovation in Europe and beyond. The event was accompanied by the exhibition The Science is Wonderful. A short RadioNet image film was possible to watch in the Huib 1 - Policy.



RadioNet's Transnational Access programme ensures free of charge access to the best European radio astronomical research infrastructures. This opportunity is open to all European researchers and to some extent to researchers from non-EU countries. More

Open call for Proposals - European VLBI Network

EVN Call for Proposals

Observing proposals are invited for the European VLBI Network (EVN). The EVN facility is open to all astronomers. Astronomers with limited or no VLBI experience are particularly encouraged to apply for observing time. Student proposals are judged favourably. Support with proposal preparation, scheduling, correlation, data reduction and analysis can be requested from the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIVE). More

Deadline: October 1, 2020.


Effelsberg Call for Proposal

The 100-m radio telescope of the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie and the data reduction facilities are available to all qualified scientists. The present policy allows the allocation of up to 40% of available observing time to external astronomers. The directors of the institute make observing time available to applicants based on the recommendations of the Program Committee for Effelsberg (PKE), which judges the scientific merit (and technical feasibility) of the observing proposals. More

Deadline: October 5, 2020.


Virtual Access to ALTA

The Westerbork Apertif Long Term Archive (ALTA) is a brand new facility offering to the world-wide astronomical community free virtual access to data and scientific products produced from all sky surveys of the Northern sky that will be conducted with the new Apertif frontend of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT), as well as tools to query, further exploit and perform data mining of these products adaptable to diverse research goals.





supported by RadioNet

• CASA-VLBI workshop – Dwingeloo/NL and/or virtual - November 2, 2020

• ADASS2020 – virtual - November 8, 2020

Links to these and to other related events are in our Calendar.



RadioNet Management
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
Auf dem Hügel 69  //  DE 53121 Bonn

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RadioNet has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730562, and contribution from the partner organisations