Facility TNA Call

Call for Proposals to be supported via the AHEAD Trans-National Access programme to ground and test facilities.

The EU-funded AHEAD2020 project releases, starting January 11st 2021, a new call to offer free-of-cost access to top-level test equipments and/or calibration facilities. The offer is especially targeted to scientific and industrial teams working on hardware development in fields such as exploration of the cosmos, planetology, solar and plasma physics and particle physics. As part of one of the AHEAD Trans-National Access activities we are offering access time to 9 different installations distributed across Europe. Furthermore, AHEAD will fully reimburse travel expenses and daily allowance for a team of up to 3 persons. The team composition will be such that at least 2 persons must work in a country different from the one hosting the facility.  The access from teams working in countries other than EU or associated countries is possible with some additional limitation, as summarized below.

The call is open from January 11st 2021 until 28 June 2024. During this period proposals can be submitted at any time. Proposals will be evaluated typically within one month from their submission  by a purposed AHEAD selection Committee of experts. In order to improve the flexibility of the program it will be possible to submit proposal requiring access for any of the coming semesters (but not later than AHEAD closure date: 30 November 2024). In case of proposal asking for  access deferred by more than 2 semesters facility availability will be verified in due time. In order to ease the submission of a winning proposal the AHEAD TNA facility host teams have agreed to furnish to the interested guest teams adequate technical support during the proposal preparation phase, this is particular important in the case of a proposal asking for a remote TNA access (see below) whose feasibility has to be verified by the host facility experts.. The facility contact persons are provided in the table at the bottom.

As part of the AHEAD TNA programme we offer also the opportunity to guest teams to propose only a site or training visit independent on whether it will be followed on by a test campaign. For example, the purpose could be to explore the suitability of the facility for their studies, or to receive adequate training prior to the execution of a campaign.

Important note on COVID-19 outbreak. Due to the current situation of the pandemic, for this TNA, for which an “always open scheme” is implemented, it is very likely that, until approximately September 2021, only remote access can be offered to the guest users. Remote access for experimental facilities has been considered in limited cases, mostly for testing small samples and pending evaluation of the feasibility to be carried out after the proposal. In such case the service is offered with no need for the guest team to travel to the host institute. The proposer PI should clearly state if this is acceptable. If selected, the guest team should discuss details with the host facility.

* Disclaimer: Because of the current uncertain situation, in the coming months and till the COVID-19 outbreak will be definitively solved, any remote/in person TNA access approved as part of the AHEAD project may suffer unpredictable cancellations or delays due to laws and regulations by the various national, local, etc.authorities put in force to control/mitigate the outbreak. AHEAD cannot be responsible for those events and the effect of cancellations/delays. 

The list of all relevant dates, and the “standard” semester of visits is provided below. The dates listed below may sligtly changes during the AHEAD implementation phase, especially to cope with the outcome of COVID-19 outbreak. However given the current schedule of the AHEAD project, all the TNA activities have to be concluded by the end of February 2023 unless EU approves an extension of AHEAD project. In this case we will accordingly extend the TNA schedule and we will duly inform the interested communities using the same diffusion method used to disseminate the AHEAD calls.

Call Opening date Semester Round Closing Date
Decision Date Nominal Reference Semester (a)
Opening January 11st 2021 February 22nd 2021 Within 1 month from submission March 22nd 2021 – September 8th 2021
Continuous NA August 30th 2021 Within 1 month from submission September 9th 2021 – March 21st 2022
Continuous NA Mid February  2022 Within 1 month from submission March 22nd 2022 – September 8th 2022
Continuous NA August 30th 2022 Within 1 month from submission September 9th 2022 – March 21st 2023
Continuous NA Mid February  2023 Within 1 month from submission March 22nd 2023 – September 8th 2023
Continuous NA August 30th 2023 Within 1 month from submission September 9th 2023 – March 21st 2024
Continuous NA June 28th 2024 Within 1 month from submission March 22nd 2024 – November 29th 2024

(a) Proposal can request for access in any coming semester.

Proposals must meet certain EU and AHEAD rules for formal eligibility concerning team membership: (a) applications by experimental teams from European and non-European countries are eligible; the access for user groups with a majority of users not working in a EU or associated country being limited to 20% of the total amount of units of access provided under this call; (b) the user group leader and the majority of the users must work in a country other than the country(ies) where the installation is located. (c) only user groups that are allowed to disseminate the results may benefit from the access, unless the users are working for SMEs. The planned number of days available at each facility as part of the AHEAD TNA scheme is given in the table below. It may be possible for the AHEAD Committee to move a given project to another facility to match scientific rating and overall demand, given the technical requirements of the project compared with the available infrastructure capabilities. The proponents are kindly asked to indicate in the technical case if their project can be done at other facilities, and give a list of any alternate choices. In this case, they should write down any technical issues, such as changes in the time request which would result.

Summary of AHEAD trans-national access provision to ground test and laboratory facilities

Access provider short name Short name of infrastructure Installation Installation Country code Place Unit of access Quantity of access to be provided(days)* Estimated number of users* Estimated number of user projects*
Nr Short name
CNR BABE 1 BABE IT IOM-CNR Trieste  day  42  30  8
CSL CSL 1 FOCAL 2 BE Liège day 4 7 2
CSL  CSL 2 Shaker 200 kN BE Liège day 6 10 4
CSL CSL 3  BBOTOC BE Liège day 16 16 6
UNIFE LARIX 1 LARIX-A IT Scientific-Technological Pole of Univ. of Ferrara day  18 10 3
UNIFE 2 LARIX-T IT Scientific-Technological Pole of Univ. of Ferrara day  24 15 4
 INAF  BEaTriX(+) 1  BEaTriX  IT  Oss. Astronomico di Brera, Merate  day 14 12 5
 CR Vibration Facility  1  Shaker  NL  CR Premises  day  15 9 3
INAF XACT 1 XACT IT Oss. Astronomico di Palermo day  11  6  1
  Notes: * These are the total access available over the entire lifetime of the AHEAD project. (+) Due to delay induced by the COVID19 outbreak this facility will be available from September 2021.

You can see details of the technical capabilities of the offered ground test and calibration facilities by going to the “Infrastructures” section web page.

Requests for multiple facilities for the same scientific project must be included in a single proposal form. Request for projects with different scientific objectives should be made on separate proposal forms.

We do not foresee to implement “long term” proposals since the selection panel does not know for certain if sufficient days on your facility of choice will be available in the future semesters. However, proposers may make a note in the text about their interest to re-apply in the future calls with a similar or a follow-on project.

Since the AHEAD Trans-National Access programme is limited by the EC funds available, it is possible that not all of these access days will be allocated at every facility; adjustments, if required, will be considered in due course.

Projects must be scientifically competitive and will be ranked based on scientific merit and technical feasibility by an AHEAD- appointed international selection committee of 5 members, the majority of which are independent experts. Depending on proposal complexity technical feasibility may be based on a technical report prepared by experts running the facility and made available in due time to the selection committee. AHEAD will attempt to schedule time allocated by this committee subject to practical constraints on facility availability. Moreover, it is foreseen to assign higher priority to: (a) teams who are working in countries where no equivalent research infrastructure exist; (b) teams who have not previously used the installation and (c) users who are outside of the AHEAD network. For more information, please contact the Project Scientist (lorenzo.natalucci at inaf.it).

The AHEAD TNA will allow to support the following actions activities (and related costs):

    1. Successful proposers will receive travel funds to cover the travel and subsistence expenses of the team, consisting of a maximum of 3 (three) guest users. According to EU rules this allows one of the three members to be of the same nationality of the country hosting the facility. The length of the visits will depend on the required facility and planned test; possible durations range between 3 and 10 working days. Please also see the section on Trans-National Access on our Rules for Travel page;
    2.  In the case of a complex facility and/or complex test run, we will support short-term preparatory visits of (maximum) 2 people between facility team and selected external teams. Such a request should be duly justified as part of the submitted proposal. Since AHEAD has limited resources to cover those expenses a valid justification must be provided.
    3.  It will be also possible to guest teams to propose only a site or training visit independent on whether it will be followed on by a test campaign. For example, the purpose could be to explore the suitability of the facility for their studies, or to receive adequate training prior to the execution of a campaign.

If mechanical or electrical interfaces of substantial complexity will be required for performing the planned test, the associated costs should be covered by the guest teams and will not be covered by the hosting infrastructures nor by the AHEAD funds. The guest teams will probably also be required to provide these interfaces, together with the necessary documentation (as requested by the host site) defining and certifying the interface items.

For downstream processing by the individual facility, successful proposers may be required to submit additional practical/technical information as for facility local expert requests. Finally, in order to be able to fullfil EU rules on TNA activity reporting, each of the selected teams must prepare a short (max 1-2 page) final summary report of its activity at the given facility and to give a signed copy to the local facility management.

Publications resulting from work carried out under this Trans-national Access activity must acknowledge the support of the European Community. Each of the selected teams is asked to provide timely the following information to the contact person of the visited facility and to the TNA coordinator (salvatore.sciortino at inaf.it): (a) a list of their publications that have appeared in journals (or conference proceedings) and are resulting from work carried out under this Trans-national Access activity. For each publication we kindly ask to indicate: the acronyms of the user-projects that have led to the publication itself, the authors, the title, the year of publication, the type of publication (Article in journal, Publication in conference proceeding/workshop/on-line repository, Book/Monograph, Chapters in book, Thesis/dissertation, etc.), whether it has been peer-reviewed or not, the DoI (Digital Object Identifier), the publication references, and whether the publication is available under Open Access or not.

To submit a proposal please register to our web portal ahead.astropa.inaf.it  Please notice that due to a problem of registration of this secure Web site it could happen that your browser returns a “privacy” error and ask you what to do, in that case you have to force to continue the access and  add, if you will,  a permanent security exception for the site. Your proposal should be prepared by filling in the template form (blank template). The form is self-explanatory and few notes have been added to help its compilation. After compiling the form the proponent is asked to upload a single PDF file with a a proper name coding (as described in the proposal form notes). You must be logged in to access the upload tool.

For specific practical information about a given installation please send an email to the installation contact person directly. Below you will find a list with the various facility contact persons and their emails. We would appreciate if in sending email enquiries you include some standard text in the Subject field, e.g. “AHEAD facility enquiry”.

Summary of technical contact point for each of the AHEAD TNA installations

Installation Name Contact Person email
BABE  Elena Magnano  magnano at iom.cnr.it
 FOCAL 2 Karl Fleury-Frenette kfleury at uliege.be
 Shaker 200 kN  “”     “”  “”     “”
 BBOTOC  “”     “”  “”      “”
LARIX-A Enrico Virgilli enrico.virgilli at unife.it
LARIX-T “ “ “ “
 BEaTriX  Bianca Salmaso bianca.salmaso at inaf.it
 Vibration Facility  Max Collon m.collon at cosine.nl
 XACT Alfonso Collura alfonso.collura at inaf.it