Astrophysicists draw up wish list
Jun 29, 2007 1 comment
Astroparticle physicists in Europe have identified six key challenges that they face and the new facilities that they need to meet their research aims. Their plans for the next ten years have been outlined in The Astroparticle Physics Roadmap Phase 1 published by ApPEC and ASPERA, which are consortia of national agencies that pay for astroparticle physics research in Europe.
The roadmap identifies six “basic questions” that need to be addressed by the astroparticle community over the next decade:
•What is the nature of dark matter?
•Do protons have a finite lifetime?
•What are the properties of neutrinos?
•What do neutrinos tell us about the interiors of the sun and Earth and about supernovae?
•What is the origin of cosmic rays?
•Can we detect gravitational waves?
To answer these questions, the roadmap recommends that design studies be undertaken on four major experimental facilities that have been proposed by astroparticle physicists. These are the Cherenkov Telescope Array for the study of high-energy gamma rays; the European Underground Rare Event Calorimeter (EURECA) for searching for dark matter; the Large Apparatus for Grand Unification and Neutrino Astrophysics (LAGUNA) for detecting neutrinos; and the Einstein Telescope for the detection of gravitational waves.
The total cost of these projects could exceed €1bn.
Phase two of the roadmap will further prioritize projects and will be produced in September at a meeting in Amsterdam of over 300 European astroparticle physicists organized by ASPERA. The third and final version of the roadmap is expected in July 2008, when budgets will be presented to funding agencies.
Founded in 2001 to foster cooperation among national funding agencies, ApPEC currently includes representatives from 11 European countries. ASPERA was set up by ApPEC in 2006 to coordinate the funding of large astroparticle physics experiments.
About the author
Hamish Johnston is editor of Physics Web