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Interview with Stavros Katsanevas, Chairman of the General Assembly

26 March 2013

Stavros Katsanevas

After the successful 6 years of the EU-funded ASPERA European nework for astroparticle physics, the new APPEC consortium that was founded one year ago is fully operational.

Horizon 2020, large infrastructures, coordination at the global level and with CERN and ESO… Stavros Katsanevas, Chairman of the General Assembly tells us about what to expect in the upcoming months related to APPEC’s strategy and challenges.

ASPERA is behind us now. What has been, according to you, its impact?

We first defined the disciplinary contours of Astroparticle Physics and this is the scope one should give to the first roadmap of 2008, better known as the roadmap of the “Magnificent 7”. This definition has now worldwide acceptance as can be seen by the global roadmap developed in the context of OECD. ASPERA then launched a series of common R&D calls totalling around 9M Euros on the themes of the roadmap. These calls beyond their scientific impact allowed us to test the differences of funding systems in Europe and work out an interface. Furthermore we accompanied the roadmap with a series of actions: elaborated the contacts with industry and the links to other sciences, eg geosciences and environment, and started to chart a computing model for the upcoming large infrastructures. An update of the roadmap with time-ordered priorities was elaborated in 2011 and finally we delivered the installation of a sustainable structure for the coordination of the field in Europe: the new APPEC.

What will the new APPEC do?

We will continue to accompany the large projects of the field and also work on the implementation of the Astroparticle Physics European Strategy, interfacing with the respective strategies on particle physics  (CERN Council) and astrophysics (ESO and ASTRONET). The common calls will continue to be an important part of our action, in particular in the context of the new schemes proposed in Horizon 2020. Furthermore, we plan to collaborate with CERN on new emerging computing models and with the virtual observatories on data access. We will also try to support the coordination of the theorists of the domain. Last but not least, we believe that the APPEC and ASPERA, through their past actions, were recognised as key contributors to the global coordination of the field. This global coordination is needed more than anything else these days, eg in the domain of neutrino physics, and APPEC intends to play a key role in the process.

Talking of the Magnificent 7, what is the status of the domain currently?

The discovery of the Higgs and the results from Planck and the neutrino program brought into focus the Astroparticle Physics questions, namely are there laws at new energy scales linking the physics of the LHC with this of inflation explored by Planck? And how do the particles that come from these scales shape the formation of cosmic structure? We expect a gravitational wave detection event within the next 5 years. During the same period, the dark matter and neutrino mass programme will reach unprecedented sensitivities. Among the challenging new infrastructures, Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) has become a world-wide priority, the first phase of the neutrino telescope KM3Net is financed; while the Auger Observatory is studying a modest upgrade to study the highest energy cosmic ray composition. The long baseline neutrino community is proposing a very innovative R&D programme based on liquid argon detectors. In the 10 years scale, a very ambitious dark energy international programme on ground (LSST) and space (EUCLID) will be deployed. These programmes, obeying different time-scales and using a diversity of funding sources, do not demand major increases of the current budget of the agencies, with the probable exception of CTA. APPEC plans, till next summer, to compare the timelines of the large projects of the roadmap to the available European agency resources.

There is more and more talk on Horizon 2020? What is the APPEC strategy in the domain?

This is a central goal of APPEC. We do not forget the structuring effects of previous framework programmes for the domain; from the Integrated Activities ILIAS program to the various Design Studies and ASPERA. We are glad that two of the priority infrastructures: underground laboratories and gravitational wave antennas have been preselected in the Integrated Infrastructures work program. Furthermore the light structure of APPEC is adapted to the ERANET+ schemes of Horizon 2020, where European wide common calls can be topped up by funds of the EU up to 50%. Many more Horizon 2020 instruments are interesting for APPEC. This is why we plan an information event for the agencies and the community 4-5 of November 2013 in Berlin.