Merger agreement of Tartu Observatory and the University of Tartu signed

Minister of education and research Mailis Reps and rector of the University of Tartu Volli Kalm signed the merger agreement of Tartu Observatory and the University of Tartu today, on 13 December. Tõravere-based Tartu Observatory will operate as an institute in the Faculty of Science and Technology as of 1 January 2018.

Minister Mailis Reps said that the rearrangement of the network of research institutions helps to ensure the stability and quality of research and development activities. “Being a part of the university gives more stability and the merger means additional development opportunities in cooperation with other faculties and partners of the university,” said Reps.

Vice rector for research of the University of Tartu Kristjan Vassil said that the university and the observatory have always had common research projects and the merger of the two institutions will definitely contribute to substantive integration. “In the course of pre-merger preparations we have been assured that both parties will benefit from this cooperation,” said Vassil. 

“What the general public knows best is the student satellite project ESTCube, in which our students and researchers together with the observatory’s researchers successfully conducted Estonia’s first ever space mission for testing space technologies. Currently, ESTCube-2 is being prepared,” said Vassil and added that Tõravere is called the centre for Estonian space studies for a reason.

Director of Tartu Observatory Anu Reinart also pointed out other areas of activity besides astronomy and space technology. “A good example of close cooperation with the university is the so-called environmental observatory for remote sensing of vegetation, atmosphere, water bodies etc.,” Reinart explained, adding that the merger of the two institutions will offer numerous opportunities for better integration of research and studies. 

Reinart also mentioned business cooperation. “I believe that together with the University of Tartu, we can offer better opportunities for collaboration with Estonian enterprises in developing high-tech equipment. Tartu Observatory is steadily moving towards becoming the research and higher education centre in the area of remote sensing and space technology in the Nordic and Baltic region,” she said.

The merger is supported by the ASTRA programme.