Total budget: 2 million Eur. Lithuanian MAO membership in the international consortium WEAVE will allow to handle high level scientific programs and to widen the international collaboration.
The RI MAO focuses on the top-notch astronomical research, including various research programs carried out by the undergraduate and graduate students. The RI participates in educational programs aimed at raising new generations of astronomers and physicists. MAO is the only RI of its kind in Lithuania, and all of its activities are planned and carried out in close collaboration with similar research institutions in Europe and worldwide. MAO operates three telescopes, of 1.65 m, 0.63 m and 0.51 m in diameter, along with a number of modern instruments, such as the high-resolution spectrograph VUES, photometric CCD cameras, and a radial velocity measurement spectrograph CORAVEL. The RI MAO therefore meets the highest international standards, both in terms of available research infrastructure and research projects that are being carried out at MAO.
In line with the strategic needs and trends of the development of astronomy in Europe and the world, as well as having regard to the expertise and competence of Lithuanian researchers, MAO plans and implements long-term research programs that cannot be undertaken at the largest astronomical facilities worldwide. A large fraction of the research carried out at MAO is planned through the participation in the international consortia (EUROPLANET, WET, Koinet, etc.).
The principal scientific activity of MAO is spectroscopic and photometric studies of the Galaxy, asteroseismic observations, as well as the search for new near-Earth objects. Longterm scientific programs of the MAO RI:
- Ground-based observations for space missions. This programme is carried out in close coordination with the ground-based follow-up programs of the ESA space missions Gaia and PLATO as well as NASA Kepler and TESS space missions. We focus on stellar observations towards the northern celestial pole since the location of MAO is favourable for observations of these objects;
- Near Earth Object Search. The project is carried out at MAO since 2004, in close collaboration with researchers from Mount Palomar (USA), Vatican (USA), and Baldone (Latvia) observatories, and EUROPLANET 2020 – Research Infrastructure Consortium (http://www.europlanet-ri.eu);
- Asteroseismic Stellar Observations. This is an international project that has been successfully run at MAO for more than 10 years. Having MAO in the previous Whole Earth Telescope observing campaigns has already proved to be very advantageous, in some cases it being the only observatory at this longitude to provide data during the campaign;
- Chemodynamics of the Galaxy. The primary goal of this programme will be to perform a large area survey of Galactic stellar populations, as well as star clusters and binary/multiple stellar systems in order to obtain chemical abundances and radial velocities of individual stars down to V ~ 12 mag;
- Educational projects at MAO (EMAO). The goal of this program is to help fulfil the national needs for growing new generations of scientists (not only astronomers). It is becoming a tradition for MAO to host the NordForsk research schools which gather young researchers from the Nordic and Baltic countries: four such schools have taken place at MAO in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2012. Summer school of the European OPTICON network (http://www.astro- opticon.org) in 2011, and of the EUROPLANET and COST projects in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. Practices of astronomy students of VU and other universities are taking place at MAO every year.