According to the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, the observatory is in critical condition.
The staff of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) gathered assembly has alerted the “serious risk” and the status “review” in which the German-Spanish Astronomical Centre is (CAHA) Calar Alto, located in Gergal (Almería), as “is losing hours of observation due to lack of staff”, with what is “missing commitments to the international scientific community”; as well as the lack of contracts with companies.
In a note, the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia states that this facility “reference in Europe and one of the main engines of astronomical research in Spain” facing a period “critical” after 40 years due to the modification of the agreement between the CSIC and the German Max Planck Society in April 2013.
This modification “opened the door to significant budget cuts” inasmuch as “both the direction of the observatory as science and technology committees CAHA plan focused on the tightest budget possible”, as indicated from the scientific body.
So, have pointed out that this effort “resulted in a proposal for funding 2,7 million per year, well below the 3,7 and 3,8 millions of euros obtained CAHA 2011 and 2012” and still “is minorada saw by the executive committee –CSIC y Max Planck– until 2,2 million”.
However, such 2,2 million, 600.000 euro from remnants of previous years observatory. “The allowance for CAHA be reduced to 1,6 million, an amount which prevents the viability of the center and that has led to the resignation of its director, José María Quintana”, have affected from the IAA.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
To the staff of IAA, this “new crisis” puts “in distress” profitability over nine million euros invested in art instruments like the camera 'Panic’ and high-resolution spectrographs' Carmenes’ o ‘CAFE’ to improve the competitiveness of scientific observatory, some of which are still under development.
Such backing projects, international character, “pose a major industrial return in Spanish companies and have barely begun to generate results”. Since the assembly of the IAA has emphasized the “need” that “enhances” a Calar Alto observatory as, the “only national observatory featuring the Spanish astronomical community over 180 observing nights per year and allows the development of ambitious projects that require great powers of observation”.
Equally, have highlighted the need for “seek new partners” so “Autonomic, national and international”, to complete the budget and do CAHA “viable long-term”. But to achieve this it is necessary “reasonable time” and “the current budget CAHA choke prevents a future image is projected”.
The Institute understands that scientific performance is the Calar Alto “exceptional” with over a hundred international projects annually use their telescopes and the amount of observing proposals are evaluated, to the point at which “are rejected over 50 percent of proposals received”.
The observatory also has “excellent external evaluation” made in the last five years, at the request of its own Scientific Advisory Committee and the Ministry of Science and Innovation.