What’s happening with SOLARNET?
Force Majeure Triggered
Given the current circumstances, the Project Office has decided to trigger Article 51 – Force Majeure (full details of the article can be found in the grant agreement). With respect to SOLARNET, this means that we informed the European Commission (EC) that we may not be able to fulfil some of the obligations within the grant agreement – at least within the initially proposed time-scale. The project office informed the EC of any project deliverables that were known to be affected and likely to experience some form of delay. If you believe that you are involved with a deliverable that may be delayed, it is worthwhile contacting the appropriate work package leader to let them know.
Given the travel restrictions in place, there have been a number of planned schools and workshops that have been postponed. These include:
- ‘A holistic view of the solar atmosphere – combining space and ground-based observations’ that was due to held in March 2020 at MSSL-UCL, UK – which is now due to take place in January 2021.
- ‘Public Engagement Training Workshop’ that was due to be held in March 2020 at Northumbria University, UK. The new dates for this work as still to be confirmed.
- Two planned workshops on ” Turbulence and Seeing” and ”Instrumentation”, both corresponding to milestones, have also had to be postponed
At the recent Executive Board meeting, the decision was also taken to postpone the 1st SOLARNET Science Meeting. It was felt this decision was necessary given that it is still unclear when international travel might start to resume at a reasonable level, and also that many people might not want to travel. Hence, the ‘Sun and Society Meeting’ due to be held in Venice, Italy in October will be postponed until 2021. This may have a potential knock on effect for 2nd SOLARNET Science meeting that was originally scheduled to take place in Potsdam, Germany in 2021.
There is also the ‘High-resolution solar observations’ school due to take place in Graz, Austria due to begin on the 31st August 2020. The organizers have decided the best course of action with the school is to postpone until a later date. The new dates will be communicated in due to course.
And finally, a decision was made that the ‘Week above the Clouds 2020’ will, unfortunately, be cancelled. Given the observing schedules at the VTT and Gregor, it would not be possible to re-arrange.
The SOLARNET Mobility Program was also affected by the restrictions on movement. The second call for the Mobility Program had awarded 3 early career and 3 senior researchers grants for travel. By early March, travel plans had been made by a number of the recipients and a few hand begun there visits to the host institutions. However, most of the visits had to be cut short, and some were delayed until travel can be resumed. The Project Office and Francesca Zuccarello (WP3 Leader – Università di Catania) are in contact with the grant recipients and deciding the best course of action.
Trans-national Access Program
With all this disappointing news, we are very happy to report on a fantastic success for the SOLARNET Trans-national Access Program. Just as most of Europe was going into lockdown in April, PI-led campaigns were due to begin taking place at the Swedish Solar Telescope on La Palma. The PIs were unable to fly due to restrictions, however the SST support astronomer, Pit Sütterlin, had landed in La Palma just before they came in to place. Through a momentous effort, Pit was able to wake the SST from its winter hibernation. Then, with the help of Stockholm’s experienced service observer, Gregal Vissers, the campaigns were transformed into a service mode campaigns, with Pit undertaking all the observations by himself. Data was obtained for both the PIs by the end of April and is being reduced for them by Olexa Andriienko. This is a great effort by the Stockholm team to keep the Trans-national Access Program going despite the chaos, and we thank them for their tenacity and dedication.
Written by Richard Morton (Northumbria University, UK)