ESCAPE: Open Science and new paths in the knowledge of the cosmos at all scales

ESCAPE project encompasses some of the world's largest scientific infrastructures in astronomy and particle physics, for the development of a single digital platform for the open use of data. Funded with sixteen million euros by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 program, it represents a unique effort towards Open Science. The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) participates in the project, for its key role in the astronomical infrastructure Square Kilometer Array (SKA) as a reference in scientific methodology


The large European astrophysics and particle physics infrastructures come together in the ESCAPE project, which will create a Virtual Observatory extended to the domains of solar physics, particle physics and astroparticles. The project responds to an international challenge that combines the management of huge amounts of data produced by projects such as the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) or the SKA radiotelescope (Square Kilometer Array) with its open availability for the Science Cloud European Open (EOSC) to become a reality: a single platform that allows to access, use and analyze all available scientific data.

"The name ESCAPE was chosen because our collaboration intends to let the data come out of its confinement. For the first time, several of the largest European facilities in physics and astronomy join forces to make their data and software open and interoperable. A great milestone for European research", says Giovanni Lamanna, researcher at the Laboratory of Annecy for Particle Physics (LAPP) and principal investigator of the ESCAPE project.

"We are living a crucial moment, with the development of increasingly complex instruments, which produce huge amounts of data and require very specialized software. In our effort to be more efficient in extracting knowledge of such data, we risk to forget about the reproducibility of the results; only if we are able to change the way in which scientists work, we can improve the quality of science, and the ESCAPE project seeks to offer solutions, tools and services for this", says Lourdes Verdes-Montenegro , researcher of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) that participates in the project and that leads the participation of Spain in the SKA project.

A flood of data is expected in the coming years thanks to the infrastructures prioritized in the roadmap of the European Research Infrastructures Strategy Forum (ESFRI), among which stand out SKA (which will constitute the largest scientific infrastructure in the world), the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the European Solar Telescope (EST), or the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), and missions of the European Space Agency as PLATO, which will characterize the planets that rotate in stars of our neighbourhood. The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia participates in these infrastructures, and its participation in ESCAPE is related to both SKA and PLATO.

The allocated funding of sixteen million euros will help the main European research infrastructures work together to find common solutions to their challenges at the level of data, interoperability and access to them, as well as to accentuate the opening of fundamental research to the international community, from professionals to the general public.

Multi-message astronomy (coordinated observations of different astrophysical signals) and particle physics with accelerators are two pillars of the ESCAPE project. Through the combination of experimental research of the two extremes, from the large-scale structures in the observable universe to the fundamental particles, projects related to astronomy and particle physics will open together new paths in the knowledge of the universe .

ESCAPE will extend the concept of virtual astronomical observatory to solar physics, particle physics and astroparticles. The project will exploit the extensive experience of the particle physics and astrophysics community in large-scale calculation and data management, building new tools to manage the data avalanche that will be produced by the new generation of facilities, creating a giant database with a size exceeding several exabytes and federating national and regional data centers.

A new scientific analysis platform will be built, so that users of the European Open Science Cloud can select existing software and use their own, taking advantage of the potential of high performance computing. Finally, ESCAPE will create a new open software repository to maximize the re-use and joint software development, identify open standards for software publishing and investigate data extraction tools and new analysis techniques. The ESCAPE work plan will also emphasize training: the goal is to attract and educate young scientists in open science and data management, using the latest tools and methodologies.

The work package in which the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) participates focuses on the definition and implementation of the "ESFRI Science Analysis Platform", which will serve for the analysis of open access data in the environment of the European Open Science Cloud.

"The IAA-CSIC will contribute to create a platform that supports researchers in the creation of reproducible methods, improving the way of sharing, not only data, but also scientific methods" -explains Lourdes Verdes-Montengro (IAA-CSIC), coordinator of the participation of Spain in SKA-. This is a key moment, coinciding with the beginning of the creation of a pilot regional center for SKA at the IAA, associated with its accreditation as Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence. As coordinator of the development I consider it fundamental to follow the principles of Open Science, and therefore the transversality with other lines developed at the center, such as the participation in the PLATO space mission".

Organisations: ESCAPE’s domain expert and skilled consortia of facilities is broad, and knowledgeable. It includes ESFRI projects/landmarks such as the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the European Solar Telescope (EST), the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe (FAIR), the High Luminosity-Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), the cubic-kilometre-sized Neutrino Telescope (KM3NeT) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Two pan-European International Organizations, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), are also members of the ESCAPE cluster. The European Virtual Observatory (EURO-VO) is also actively engaged in this endeavour. ESCAPE also brings on board other world-class established astronomical observatories, such as those operated by ESO (e.g. APEX ALMA, the Paranal and La Silla observatories), research infrastructures such as the European Gravitational-Wave Observatory (EGO-Virgo) and the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIV-ERIC).

The complete list of ESCAPE partners

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), ASTRON, CWI and NIKHEF institutes of the Stichting Nederlandse Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Instituten (NWO-I), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), European Southern Observatory (ESO), The Square Kilometre Array Organization (SKA), Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe (FAIR GMBH), Koninklijke Sterrenwacht van Belgie (ORB), Università degli Studi di Roma Torvergata (UNITOV), Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), Istituto Nazionale d’Astrofisica (INAF), Instituto de Fisica de Altas Energias (IFAE), Stiftung Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften EV (MPG), Stiftung Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik (KIS), Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (UHEI), GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung Gmbh (GSI), The University of Edinburgh (UEDIN), Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry, a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (JIV-ERIC), European Gravitational Observatory / Osservatorio Gravitazionale Europeo (EGO), The Open University (OU), Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial Esteban Terradas (INTA), HITS GGMBH (HITS), Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory GGMBH (CTAO GGMBH), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG), Surfsara BV, TRUST-IT Services (TRUST-IT), OROBIX Srl (OROBIX).


Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC)
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