Calar Alto Observatory saga still rumbling on

THE funding row over the Calar Alto Observatory continues. In May 2011, a (PSOE) Central Government Council of Ministers authorised the National Research Council (CSIC) to commit more than €8 million of future expenditure, covering the period 2014-2018, to the project. 

The joint-venture funding agreement with the German Max Planck Society however, ends on December 31 this year.

Justifying the decision, a PSOE spokesman explained: “Programming, human resources and instrumentation design demands a lengthy period of time. In December 2010 we initiated an addendum to the agreement for the operation of the observatory to cover the period 2014 – 2018.

“Both sides renewed their commitment to keep the centre at the forefront of scientific research in the coming years.”

The Council of Ministers is required by law to ratify the addendum, and the current PP government must decide whether to spend another €8.217 million to the project.

The future of the observatory has been in question in recent months. The CSIC want to make drastic cuts which may jeopardise the value of its work, whilst the uncertainty over the German partner’s commitment to continue when the contract expires is another factor.

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