For about a decade the Czech Republic has been contributing to the construction, operation, maintenance and improvement of the detection facilities of the Pierre Auger Observatory – the largest cosmic ray detector in the world located on more than 3000 km2 in Argentinean pampa. This international research infrastructure has 17 participating Member States and combines 2 detection techniques – fluorescence telescopes and array of surface detector stations. Both these systems study the highest energy cosmic rays coming to the Earth from the Universe. By participation in the Pierre Auger Observatory, the research community of the Czech Republic jointly with international partners contributes to a deeper understanding of the physical properties of cosmic particles. The significant role of Czech involvement in the Pierre Auger Observatory can be demonstrated by the fact that the Czech research group has taken the responsibility for the operation of the fluorescence detector system of the Pierre Auger Observatory for many years. Furthermore, Czech glass mirrors have been installed in 15 out of 27 fluorescence telescopes of the Pierre Auger Observatory. Therefore, one of the main goals of the Czech contribution to Pierre Auger Observatory is to continue in developing technological solutions of optical and other systems for fluorescence telescopes and other devices dedicated to the study of cosmic rays and monitoring of the atmosphere. The Czech experts also test, both in the laboratory and in the Pierre Auger Observatory, new detection techniques and systems for the study of cosmic rays and participate in the upgrade of the Pierre Auger Observatory. Collaborations of the research infrastructure AUGER-CZ at the national level are established in particular with the RCPTM (Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials in Olomouc) and CESNET e-infrastructure, which cooperates on the administration of central computing servers of the Pierre Auger Observatory.
The research infrastructure is listed in the Roadmap of the Large Infrastructures for Research, Experimental Development and Innovations of the CR (PDF) as Pierre Auger Observatory – participation of the Czech Republic .
Being in a successful operational phase for years, the Pierre Auger Observatory is currently undergoing a substantial upgrade of the surface array, which is planned to enhance the capabilities of the Pierre Auger Observatory with the aim to distinguish the types of primary cosmic ray particles, study the particle physics beyond the reach of accelerators and enhance investigation of puzzles of cosmic rays. The Pierre Auger Observatory upgrade consists mainly of the addition of scintillator counters above the existing surface detectors and enhanced operation of the fluorescence detector system.
The participation of the Czech Republic in operation and other activities of the Pierre Auger Observatory is an example of application of Czech skills and long tradition in optical systems development in highly prestigious international research infrastructure. The Pierre Auger Observatory is recognized by the relevant industries as a project with successful application of Czech products and technology. Czech companies involved in production of glass, optical instruments and mechanical devices profit from delivery of their products installed at the Pierre Auger Observatory and in this way they increase their international competitiveness.