Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory
General Info


Heidelberg, Germany (HQs will change with the final legal entity)

legal status




The Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory (CTAO) is the first observatory for ground-based gamma-ray astronomy that will produce ground-breaking science in the next decades. Given its trans-disciplinary nature, the CTAO will strengthen bridges between the particle physics and the astronomy communities, enabling disruptive scientific breakthroughs. Jointly with other new facilities, from gravitational waves experiments to observatories operating at lower frequencies (from radio to high-energy gamma rays), the CTAO will be driving the emerging field of multi-messenger astronomy that will be constitutive of science in the 21st century.
Total Investment 460 M€ Design Preparation 35 M€ Implementation 425 M€ Operation 30 M€/year Project Landmark 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024 2026 2028 2030 2032 2034 2036 2038 RM06 RM08 RM10 RM16 RM18 RM21 LA24
Roadmap Entry
as project: 2008
as landmark: 2018
Total investment
460 M€
Design Phase
Preparation Phase
35 M€
Implementation Phase
425 M€
Operation start
30 M€/year
The CTAObservatory will have a significant social and economic impact. The involvement of a very large scientific community already generates a world-spanning network and exchanges between scientists and engineers. The construction of the CTAO allows to strengthen those exchanges and to further enhance scientific and technical collaborations between researchers and technicians from all over the world. In its social dimension as a future world-wide Research Infrastructure, the CTAO is fostering and it will increase international collaboration and mobility across not only Europe but also with the other continents, making people from different scientific environments work together in an international network of researchers and in a very specific field of Physics. The design and construction of the CTAO generates cooperation with industry. Indeed, CTAO telescopes demand forefront research and their large number implies that the technologies involved cannot remain at laboratory scale but need to scale up to large deployment of products useful for commercialization and application in other areas – e.g. photosensors with vastly improved characteristics may find application in medical imaging. SMEs in different countries are already involved in production of CTAO components, and various aspects of operation and maintenance of the CTAO will be outsourced to local industry. Furthermore, the deployment of the array sites, headquarters and data management centre is generating employment, attracting skilled individuals who directly contribute to the local economy and training opportunities for technicians and engineers in an intellectually challenging environment. The CTAO has been already investing resources in education and public outreach activities targeting schools, science educators, the general public and the media. Objectives behind those initiatives are multiple: to raise awareness around the CTAO science, to offer training opportunities, to elicit young people to undertake science careers, etc. In future, the CTAO aims at developing key performance indicators (KPIs) not only to quantitatively gauge and monitor its progress and success as a Research Infrastructure for the scientific community but also to evaluate its socio-economic benefits for the Society. Credit picture (CTAO-South Rendering): CTAO
The CTAO Research Infrastructure which will consist in i) Two observation stations each of which hosting an array (Canaries Island and Chile) made available to the community for astronomical observations and ii) a Science Data Management Centre in Germany, responsible for the processing, archiving, and dissemination of the data recorded at the CTAO array sites, that will provide science data products and support services to researchers and to the global scientific community. The data expected to be provided to users will be science-ready data, a suite of tools to analyze science-ready data (the “CTAO Science Analysis Tools”), hence, to produce the data products needed for scientific publications, i.e. the advanced science data products and observatory advanced science data products that ensure rapid access to preliminary results to Principal Investigators (PIs) during the execution of a science proposal, as well as to performance monitoring results. The CTAO will also offer the users the possibility to store and make easily accessible to the whole community the advanced science data and the gamma-ray catalogues produced by them. The CTAO will preserve all produced archival raw data, as well as all released science-ready data, for the whole operational lifecycle of the CTAObservatory. However, access to archival raw data, as well as to intermediate data levels, will not be guaranteed by the CTAO. Both software and data products delivered and disseminated to the users by the CTAO will be made available through the CTAO science portal with authorized and authenticated accounts. The CTAO intends to make available data products in compliance with the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) standards to ensure interoperability with the other astronomical facilities. In general, the CTAO, as an open observatory, supports the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data principles and the open-science pillars of the European Commission.
S S H D I G I T E N E E N V H & F
The CTAO is in 2024 in the process of preparing and starting construction activities for the Southern and Northern arrays which will be part of the Research Infrastructure. In parallel, work has been done to prepare the ground for establishing the final legal entity which will be managing the Research Infrastructure. Along this path, the current CTAO entity has established cooperation agreements for different purposes, either required to move forward or particularly relevant in the preparatory phase: With the institutions DESY, IAC, INAF and the intergovernmental organization ESO that were selected to host the facilities of the CTAObservatory. The goal was to set forth the conditions in all relevant aspects for hosting the CTAO facilities. With SKAO for the purpose of working together in domains of mutual interest: governance & administration, science, engineering, software, construction and strategic communications and outreach. The cooperation aims mostly to share experience and best practices. With the Italian ERIC Forum gathering the ERICs established in Italy. The cooperation aims mostly to share experience and best practices.