The Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) will be the world largest telescope of its class when it begins operation by the end of 2006. GTC represents a hallmark witnessing the achievements of the Spanish Astronomy community. It is of utmost importance that the GTC starts producing first class science when it enters into operation. For this to be true it needs be sufficiently optimised soon after it starts operating. Hence the two first objectives of this proposal, namely to contribute to the successful operation and characterization of GTC instrumentation and to coach the astronomy community so that first class science start flowing from the GTC, science that represents a quantum jump in our knowledge of the Universe. Besides, the GTC will be the most advanced segmented telescope ever built. This is an asset on the Spanish and European industry, an asset that needs to be exploited and put to work in the current drive for the new generation of giant telescopes. Hence the third objective of this proposal, using the GTC as a tool to position the Spanish industry in a leadership position in the era of the giant telescopes, specially in the European Giant Telescope.The GTC requires a programme of continuous upgrades and new instrumentation in order to maintain it at the forefront of technology. This requirement is shared with similar requirements for the ORM, Calar Alto, and the ESO VLT. The Spanish Astronomical community must get prepared, together with the high tech industry, to compete internationally for the leadership of the new developments in scientific instrumentation. This is more so since the recent entrance of Spain into ESO. This is thus the fourth objective of this proposal. The Spanish Astronomical community is still scarce, in relation to our neighbouring countries. Astronomy is however one of the sciences that has more potential for attracting young people. Education is hence the fifth objective of this proposal. The aim is attracting the best minds for science. The future of the knowledge-based economy is at stake.Finally, the whole society must benefit from the GTC. The society is indeed entitled to enjoy, as much as the scientists, the achievements and discoveries made by the GTC. An enthusiastic, attractive, and enticing outreach programme is a fundamental part of this proposal and constitutes its sixth objective.

  • Joint Centre with the combined effort of Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and University of Cantabria (UC)

    Instituto de Física de Cantabria
    Edificio Juan Jordá
    Avenida de los Castros, s/n
    E-39005 Santander
    Cantabria, Spain

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