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Aerial view of ESRIN, ESA's centre for Earth observation, in Frascati, south of Rome, Italy

The Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing (IAASARS) is one of the three institutes of the National Observatory of Athens (NOA), the oldest research institution in Greece. The main activities of the Institute involve basic and applied research in a number of topics in astrophysics, from distant galaxies to the solar neighborhood, as well as ground based and space-borne remote sensing, earth observation and signal processing. The institute is also committed to outreach and science dissemination for the general public and operates a very popular visitor center in Penteli.

IAASARS is project lead of the BEYOND project. BEYOND aims at Building a Centre of Excellence for Earth Observation based monitoring of Natural Disasters, which will situate IAASARS/NOA as a dynamic actor for regional and potentially European hazard management. The means to achieve such a goal will be based on capacity building on top of the existing infrastructure and interdisciplinary staff collaborations, aiming at unlocking its potential through the systematic interaction with high-profile partners across Europe, and at consolidating state-of-the-art equipment and technological know-how that will allow sustainable cutting-edge research to take place with an impact on the regional and European socioeconomic welfare.

This vision was born by the clear need for a regional centre for disaster monitoring with remote sensing means, which will systematically provide products and services mainly for south-eastern Europe, including Balkan countries. The Centre will be established in such a way to allow its future access range to reach the wider Mediterranean region, through the integrated operation with twinning organisations in BEYOND. The technological expertise that will be brought together, will allow the potential participation to future research projects with focus on diverse regional characteristics.

The main objective of the project is to offer the opportunity to IAASARS/NOA to enhance its capacities, drawing new creative perspectives in EO-based disaster management, rendering IAASARS/NOA into the leading south-eastern Europe/Balkan research centre of excellence, and allowing sustainable collaborative schemes to be formed.

The project BEYOND: "Building a Centre of Excellence for Earth Observation based monitoring of Natural Disasters in South-Eastern Europe" (Project GA number: 316210), is funded under the FP7 REGPOT 2012-2013 call, activity 4.1: "Unlocking and developing the research potential of research entities established in the EU's Convergence regions and Outermost regions".

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