The National Observatory of Athens is the first research Institution created in Greece (1842) after its liberation from the Ottoman (1828), the arrival of King Otto as the head of the modern Greek Kingdom (1833) and the establishment of Athens as the capital of the modern Greek state (1834). The National Observatory of Athens facing the Parthenon and Thission is one of the landmarks of Athens; it has long been used by Greek and foreign Astronomers as the basis for astronomical, meteorological, chartographical and geodynamical measurements and observations in the more than 170 years long course of its history.
The activities of the National Observatory of Athens are organized in 3 research Institutes: the Institute of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing (IAASARS), the Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development (IERSD), and the Geodynamics Institute (GEIN). Besides basic and applied research and services to the society, these Institutes provide the facilities for graduate student training in collaboration with other Greek and foreign Universities. NOA hosts the UNESCO Chair for Natural Disasters and the Greek Focal Point of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS), operates the National Seismological Network, participates in the OPTICON and other international research networks, etc.
The members of the IAASARS are active in a number of areas of applied and basic research. They address various problems in astronomy, astrophysics, space physics, solar physics, ionospheric and magnetospheric physics, Earth observation via ground based and space-born remote sensing. In addition, there is expertise in advanced wireless communication and signal processing techniques which can be used in sophisticated data analysis techniques. The institute also supports and operates and develops instruments for the 2.3m Aristarchos telescope. More specifically the basic research areas of the institute are the following: Ground-Based Astrophysics, Gaia Mission Support, Infrared Astrophysics, X-ray Astrophysics, Ionospheric Physics, Solar and Heliospheric Physics Group, Space Research and Technology, Remote Sensing.
IERSD since its founding has got as a main goal the study of the Environment following an integrated/multidisciplinary approach, performing leading edge research and providing high quality services. Currently, the Institute’s strategy is based upon the following pillars: Extension of its weather monitoring networks and development of reliable databases. Integrated monitoring of environmental pressures, focusing on atmospheric quality. Improvement of the understanding, monitoring and forecasting of meteorological parameters and their integration in methodologies tools and services. Development of tools and methodologies for the analysis of future climate projections in Europe/the Mediterranean Basin, the estimation of the impacts of climate change and the assessment of adaptation and mitigation strategies. Development of methodological tools for the assessment of the building energy performance to reach nearly-zero energy buildings (NZEB).
The Institute of Geodynamics covers a wide range of research fields in the areas of Seismology, Physics of the Earth’s Interior and Applied Geophysics. The research in these areas aims not only in the production of new knowledge but also to support applications of economic, social and cultural interest as well as the support and improvement of the 24/7 earthquake and tsunami monitoring of the country.
Research activities in the Institute of Geodynamics include also geological remote sensing for the study of active faults and landslides, particularly the neotectonic fault segmentation, the thermal teledection of the volcanic arc in the South Aegean Sea,the digital geomorphometry, InSAR techniques and applications to archaeological problems. Tsunami research in the Institute of Geodynamics aims not only to improve scientific knowledge but also to develop the national center for tsunami warning.
The WetMainAreas project is implemented by the NOA/ IAASARS; with its unique expertise on Earth Observation and through the help of its innovative infrastructure (Hellenic National Sentinel Data Mirror Site), IAASARS has two distinct research tasks. The first one is the identification of wetlands in four countries namely Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and FYROM using the new European satellites, Sentinel-2. The second one is the development of an online operational service that will monitor the wetlands as soon as a clear satellite image becomes available for the relevant area and automatically calculate certain important indices. This over time will eventually populate a unique database which will be easily used by experts to assess the current status of all wetlands in the four countries. In addition, IAASARS generate satellite-derived updated Land Cover maps in MAES nomenclature. IAASRS will host a technical workshop and a Night Event at the gardens of the Observatory for disseminating the project to stakeholders and the Press.