European Research Council grants Polish astronomers almost EUR 14 mln

Polish astronomers will receive almost EUR 14 million in a grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for astronomical research and to build a telescope in Chile, the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) has announced.

PAN said the award is one of the largest research grants in the world and the first of its kind in Poland.

The millions was awarded through the ERC’s Synergy Grant scheme, which supports small teams of scientists engaged in space research.

The money will be received on behalf of the team of Professor Grzegorz Pietrzyński from PAN's Nicholas Copernicus Astronomical Centre.

The grant's main aim is to support work on carrying out precise measurements of the distance on various scales from the vicinity of the sun to distant parts of the universe. To achieve this goal, the Synergy Grant money will go towards a new telescope at the Polish Cerro Armazones Observatory in northern Chile, a PAN communique said.

"EUR 6 million is earmarked for building the telescope, in addition we have EUR 1 million for a camera," Professor Pietrzyński said. "A total of EUR 7 million is envisaged for instruments and their installation. The rest of the funds are earmarked for servicing the telescope, travel and salaries for personnel, among other items."

The grant and its associated research will last for six years, but the telescope, to be built with a 2.5-metre diameter mirror and camera that will enable observation in the infra-red spectrum, will also be available for later research.

The investment is due to commence in November next year.

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