Discussions with the present and potential future partners have resulted in a number of groups that are interested joining the project in the near future. EISCAT has in June 2013 published a new Membership Policy anticipating a new affiliate membership that will be included in the new statutes of the association. While EISCAT will continue its time-buying scheme to allow research groups and organisations to get access to its facilities given that the external users can cover the operational costs for doing the experiments; the focus will not be on selling observation time to pay for operations but rather to expand the numbers of Associates and Affiliates. Recently the Institute de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP-CNRS, France) already signed up as affiliate. The Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and the Institute of Radio Astronomy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine are planning to change funding from time-buying schemes to Affiliate memberships. Discussions with potential new members converged to a group of institutions in several countries that are interested in joining as affiliate members in the near future, some in 2015. The present situation is as follows:
- The Belgium Institute for Space Aeronomy is interested in aurora studies, meteor studies and joint spacecraft observations with EISCAT, their affiliate membership had to be postponed because of a budget cut. But membership paid through project funding would be considered.
- The German Aerospace Center is interested in space weather research and middle and upper atmospheric studies with EISCAT and considers becoming an Affiliate Member.
- The Leibniz-Institute for Atmospheric Research is interested in middle atmosphere observations, partly in combination with rocket campaigns and in coordination with their instruments located near Andoya. Opportunities for funding an Affiliate Membership are at present explored.
- The CNRS institute has made an agreement with EISCAT already (see above) and intends to continue that, as funding permits.
- INGV in Rome is interested in collaborations related to space weather research, some initial discussion took place, but conditions are still unclear.
- The Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) indicated its interest in using EISCAT for research into the arctic atmosphere and becoming Affiliate member in 2015. An initial discussion with the EISCAT community took place during the EISCAT SOC meeting in August 2014.
- The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute is interested in becoming Affiliate member in 2015 in order to use EISCAT for space weather studies. An initial discussion with the EISCAT community took place during the EISCAT SOC meeting in August 2014.
- The Polish Space Research Institute in Warsaw suggested to start the Affiliate membership through a joint scientific research proposal which will be prepared by the end of 2014.
- Finally EISCAT was asked to participate in an effort to establish a distributed research infrastructure on space weather in Europe.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has before bought observation time and supported special projects at EISCAT. There is a mutual interest in continuing the cooperation, especially focused around the European H2020 Space programme and ESA’s programme on Space Situational Awareness (SSA). The conditions of space debris observations are still subject to discussions and Council decided an expert group should work out and suggest to Council the details of how EISCAT could participate in space debris observations.
European Commission: The message from EC and the Competitive Council is that EISCAT_3D is targeted for funding in the range of 2-5 MEUR in the upcoming INFRADEV-3 call for supporting the transition toward implementation. The call is scheduled to close on January 14th 2015.