AO Cycle 6

AHEAD 2020 – Announcement of Opportunity Cycle 6

Opening: 14 July 2023

Dear Colleague:

I am pleased to announce the sixth Announcement of Opportunity of AHEAD2020.

The AHEAD2020 (Integrated Activities for High Energy Astrophysics) project has been funded under the Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructure Program. The AHEAD2020 main goal is to integrate and open research infrastructures for high energy and multi-messenger astrophysics. We offer a wide program of transnational access (TNA) to the best European test and calibration facilities (Call n.1) and access to selected European astronomical institutes and data centres for support in high energy data analysis (Call n.3) and computational astrophysics (Call n.4). Moreover, we offer the possibility for scientists and engineers at all expertise levels to visit European institutes of their choice through our visitor program (Call n.2).

Proposals will be peer-reviewed by specific AHEAD2020 selection panels and ranked according to their merit. The access costs for the selected facility or institute will be covered by AHEAD2020 as well as travel costs and daily allowances for the successful applicants.

Due to specific EU rules the number of days allocated to users not working in a EU or associated country [1] is constrained to be less than 20%.

This Announcement of Opportunity is organised in four distinct Calls as described below.

Important note on COVID-19 outbreak. As for the past AOs, this AO6 will include the possibility of remote access (e.g. on-line training and hands-on sessions) for calls 3 and 4. In such case the service is offered with no need to travel to the host institute. The user application should clearly state if this is acceptable and if any help with software installation is required. If selected, the user should discuss details with the host institute.
For call 1, remote access for experimental facilities can be considered, mostly for testing small samples and pending evaluation of the feasibility to be carried out after the proposal.
DisclaimerIn case of unpredictable events causing travel restrictions by laws and regulations by the various national, local, etc. authorities, any remote or in person TNA visit approved as part of the AHEAD2020 project may suffer cancellations or delays. AHEAD2020 cannot be responsible for such events and the effect of cancellations/delays. 

AO6 Calls Opening:                                            14 July 2023

Submission Deadlines:

Call 1 (Experimental Facilities) Open; proposals can be submitted anytime until 28 June 2024; they will be evaluated typically within one month from delivery
Calls 2, 3 and 4 (Visitor programme, Data Analysis and Computational Astrophysics): 1 September 2023, 17:00 CET

A summary description of the AHEAD2020 Calls follows.

For calls 2,3,4 the activities covered in this AO (on-site visits or remote access) are expected to be completed by the end of October 2024.

Traveling visitors are expected to be covered by their own travel and health insurances.

Call 1. Trans-national access to ground and test facilities

Aim: to give access to some of the best European ground test and calibration facilities relevant for high-energy astrophysics. Such facilities are used to test and/or calibrate new technology space hardware as well as hardware developed for specific astronomical space missions, but can be also used in a wider context of space applications. Additionally, we are opening a new opportunity for 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 of such visit could be to explore the suitability of the facility for their studies, or to receive adequate training prior to the execution of a campaign.

For this call for which an “always open scheme” is implemented it will possible, limited by the kind of measurements that can be performed and the kind of samples and/or hardware that can be tested, to use remote access to perform the tests in coordination with the facility staff.

Procedure: proposals will be submitted through website (see link below). They will be peer-reviewed by a specific AHEAD2020 panel and ranked according to scientific and technological merit and relevance of the proposed program. Applications from EU or associated countries SME are encouraged. Visitor teams consist of max. 3 individuals: a strict rule is that the majority of them as well as the team leader must have different nationality than the country hosting the facility.

Contact: Prof. Salvatore Sciortino (email:

Call documents and application:

Call 2. Visitor Program

Aim: to support research visits to institutes/laboratories located in European or associated countries [1],in order to foster new or strengthen existing collaborations.  Eligible candidates are scientist or engineers from Astrophysics institutes in both EU and non-EU countries.

Procedure: proposals must be submitted through website (see link below) by individuals with scientific or engineering skill (e.g. from PHD to senior profile). According to the Grant Agreement with EU, particular attention will be given to science and technology proposals related to topics like high resolution spectroscopy and surveys, the Large X-ray observatory Athena, and multi-messenger astronomy. The duration of the visits will be between 5 working days (minimum) and 20 working days. Reimbursement of travel costs and daily allowances are foreseen for each visit.

Contact: Dr. José Miguel Torrejon Vazquez (email:

Call documents and application:


Call 3. Trans-national access to X-ray data analysis

Aim: to provide trans-national access to X-ray (and gamma-ray) data analysis methods including use of data tools, archives and space instruments via support by experienced scientists at the delivery institutes. The primary aim is to widen opportunities for scientists across Europe to exploit both European-funded and international X-ray astronomy facilities and X-ray data archives. Particularly targeted to assist relatively inexperienced users in smaller institutes, but will be tailored to the needs of scientists with a wide range of experience including consolidated expertise in other wavelength astronomy (radio, optical/IR, etc.).

Procedure: applications should be made by individuals and the duration of the visits will be less than 10 working days.

The delivery institute[1] will provide the users with: a hands-on tutorial in the most up-to-date methods in X-ray data analysis (imaging, time series, spectroscopy); specific data analysis methods tailored to the users own research project(s); assistance with using software packages specific to European and international X-ray missions; given guidance in the exploitation of data archives located at the host institutions and elsewhere, including multi-waveband analysis; and mentoring in how to make use of the software and X-ray facilities when the user returns home. A sub-set of delivery institutes can also provide, on request, technical support to observation proposals. Reimbursement of travel costs and daily allowances are foreseen for each visit.
Remote access will be also offered in this call.
The user application should clearly state if this is acceptable and if any help with software installation is required. If selected, the user should discuss details with the host institute.

[1] Note that some facilities for this Call 3 TNA are offering new services. Also, note that related to undergoing negotiations with EC, visits to the new centre “MPG/MPE Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany” might be available at a later stage. The availability of this centre will be timely advised to successful proposers and on our main webpage.

Contact: Prof. Paul O’Brien (email:

Call documents and applications:

Call 4. Trans-national access to Computational astrophysics

This new TNA will provide new opportunities for European researchers to access free of charge complex computational astrophysical simulations, models and tools to simulate, compare, and analyse X-ray and gamma-ray data and support analysis of multi messenger data. It will be of great interest to relatively inexperienced users in small institutes, and to observers that aim to gain new knowledge in computational astrophysics to model their data.
The users will be encouraged while present to join in the usual research activities of the host institution (seminars, discussions of recent techniques and results, updates on current/future space missions and external training opportunities). The latter activities will be particularly important for users from small research centres to ensure they maintain contact with the subject once they return home.

Procedure: Users will submit an application via a web form on this TNA web site which will permit a preference for a particular host institute (allowing for spoken language and detailed scientific requirements). The unit of time for a visit is normally 5 working days (the maximum duration being 10 working days). Iterations between the user and the TNA site contact point will take place by e-mail before the visit to ascertain their experience in computational astrophysics and to refine the requirements and needs of the user for his/her visit, and thus to tailor the tools made available by the TNA site. Remote access will be also  offered in this call.
The user application should clearly state if this is acceptable and if any help with software installation is required. If selected, the user should discuss details with the host institute.

Contact: Dr. Marc Audard (email:

Call documents and application:


Luigi Piro
AHEAD2020 Coordinator
Institute of Space Astrophysics and Planetology, INAF

[1] The list of associated countries is provided at this link: