FROM THE COSMOS
Astroparticle physics is the field of research where particle physics, astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology converge. It started as a specialised endeavour, pursued by a few pioneers who reached out beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries and used unconventional, innovative experimental techniques. Since then, the field has become a mature, globally-integrated research activity, involving approximately 4,000 researchers, with experiments being conducted underground, underwater, on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere and in space. These are funded at the level of more than 300 million euros per year (excluding space launch costs).
ASPERA (AStroparticle Physics European Research Area network) is a European network of 25 national government agencies responsible for coordinating and funding national research efforts in astroparticle physics. ASPERA started in July 2006 and has been extended until the end of 2012. From 2012 onwards the work of the network will be continued by the newly formed Astroparticle Physics European Consortium (ApPEC). The main achievements of ASPERA include the development of the European strategy for Astroparticle Physics (see European Strategy for Astroparticle Physics), the preparation of a roadmap of seven large infrastructures, the launch of three European common calls for R&D and design studies, the organisation of workshops to connect with industry (here, here and here) and workshops to discuss the computing needs for the field (here, here and here).
TO THE GEOSPHERE
In addition, the funding agencies participating in ASPERA have been promoting and facilitating the establishment of collaborations between scientists belonging to different disciplines. By taking the tools of particle physics into the natural environment to study the particles of the cosmos, Astroparticle Physics has developed interfaces with a remarkable number of other sciences. Astroparticle Physics is an interdisciplinary field in itself, so ASPERA can greatly contribute in overcoming obstacles arising due to the merging of different cultures at the funding and administrative level (e.g. ways of organisation, funding opportunities, publication of results).
A series of initiatives have been undertaken by ASPERA towards that direction. First, a workshop entitled “From the Geosphere to the Cosmos” was organised in December 2010 at the Palais de la Découverte in Paris, France, where existing synergies between Environmental Sciences and Astroparticle Physics were presented. The success of the workshop was shown by the almost hundred registered participants coming from all across Europe and by the articles published in leading journals and newspapers (e.g. the Economist). Next, the importance of multidisciplinary in content and interdisciplinary in execution research was then stressed in the update of the “European Roadmap for Astroparticle Physics” (2011).
A report has been recently been produced by ASPERA that includes all underwater, underground and terrestrial synergies, called "from the Geosphere to the Cosmos" (March 2012). Subsequently, a workshop was organised at the end of May 2012, specifically for underwater synergies, entitled “Deep Ocean Cabled Observatories”. The 68 participants of this workshop were scientists belonging to different disciplines (oceanographers, biologists, geologists, astroparticle physicists), representatives of funding bodies and EU project leaders.
This workshop follows on from the Underwater Synergies workshop – focusing on the multidisciplinary science underway or planned in the world deep underground laborotories.