Atatürk University


The Atatürk University Astrophysics Research and Application Center (ATASAM) and the Space Research and Planetary Sciences (SRPS) Unit of the University of Bern, Switzerland, have signed a protocol of scientific cooperation.

"Rapid Adaptive Coronagraphy of Exoplanets" was accepted by the Space Research and Planetary Sciences Unit (SRPS) of the University of Bern (UBE), Switzerland, as part of the Horizon Europe program of the European Union's European Research Council (ERC) calls. Within the scope of the ERC Consolidator project named from a Ground-Based Observatory - RACE-GO), a 3-year scientific cooperation agreement was signed for device development and test observations to be conducted at the Eastern Anatolian Observatory (DAG) within ATASAM, in addition to the provision of other infrastructure-related technical services.

This Device Will Enable the Discovery of New Exoplanets

Efforts to develop an observational device for the DAG and acquire a focal plane device continue within the scope of the Focal Plane Devices Project, which has been successfully carried out since 2016 concurrently with the installation of the DAG within ATASAM with the support of the Strategy and Budget Directorate. The "Programmable Liquid Crystal Active Coronagraphic Imager for the DAG Telescope", which was designed and manufactured by Swiss experts specifically for the 4-meter diameter DAG Telescope, will be brought to our country from Switzerland next month and will be used as an observational focal plane device in the DAG for many years beginning in 2024. The Programmable Liquid - Crystal Active Coronagraphic Imager for the DAG Telescope - PLACID) instrument is of great significance because it is a technological observational instrument that will facilitate the discovery of new exoplanets.

At DAG, Initial Observations Will Be Made.

The purpose of the RACE-GO Project is to update the PLACID observation device, which was designed specifically for the DAG Telescope, with new exoplanet detection techniques known as "Coherent Differential Imaging" (CDI) that will be used in larger telescopes on Earth in the future, thereby making it more advanced and flexible. Thanks to this update, the present observational capabilities of the DAG Telescope and the diversity of wavelengths for studying exoplanets will be expanded, and DAG will conduct the first observations with this technique before other large telescopes adopt it.

The Excellence of the DAG Telescope Will Be Revealed to the World.

Within the scope of this cooperation, with the RACE-GO project, the cost of the new update to PLACID, one of the most important and technologically advanced focal plane devices of DAG, will be covered, and in exchange, a portion of night observation time will be allocated, thereby enhancing the technical and observational quality of both the DAG Campus and the DAG Telescope. Together, they will be introduced to the world. During this cooperation process, it is of great importance that experts from the ATASAMDAG team, which has been trained for a while, will personally make observations and directly participate in studies on new technological updates. These experts, who are competent in their field, will constitute the basic optics team of the Optomechatronics Research Laboratory - OPAL, which is planned to be established in a short time.

"Outsourced R&D projects are of great importance to us," said Rector Çomaklı.

Prof. Dr. Ömer Çomaklı, rector of Atatürk University, evaluated the topic as follows: "Within the context of our university being a New Generation University and Research University, such initiatives of our university units and outsourcing and external stakeholder partnerships are extremely significant and stand out as the greatest indicator that returns have begun. In this context, I would like to thank our entire technical and academic team and staff, including our unit manager Prof. Dr. Cahit Yeşilyaprak, who works at the ATASAM facility."

"We Provide All Necessary Effort and Assistance"

Rector Çomaklı stated that the Eastern Anatolian Observatory Project is one of our country's vision projects and has garnered intense national and international interest. He added, "There are also different project support types (ERC – Starting; ERC – Consolidator; ERC) within the European Research Council (ERC). – Advanced; ERC – Proof of Concept; ERC – Synergy) are among the most extensive and prestigious R&D support programs. "I appreciate that our units and researchers have already begun such projects with infrastructure services and external stakeholder support, and I would like to inform you that all efforts and support have been made for the imminent emergence of ERC projects to be led by Ataturk University."


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