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UK home for HQ of the World's biggest radio telescope

10/07/2019

UK home for HQ of the World's biggest radio telescope

Jodrell Bank in the UK has today officially become the home of the new international organisation behind what will soon be the World’s biggest ever radio telescope – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA will be both the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world, stretching technology to its limits and UK engineers, technologists and astronomers will be at the forefront of making this project a success.

The UK is one of the seven founding countries involved in the SKA Project creating the intergovernmental organisation that will oversee the delivery of the SKA. Once operational the SKA will improve our understanding of the evolution of the Universe and help us to map hundreds of millions of galaxies.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: "Today's milestone reinforces the UK's leading position in global astronomy and UKRI's commitment to strengthening international research and innovation.

“The Square Kilometre Array will help us answer fundamental questions about the nature and the origin of our Universe, providing insights that will drive future discoveries. 

“In addition, the new technologies and methods it will pioneer will deliver advances in computing, information technology and big data processing, with the potential to create significant benefit across many areas of modern life.”

Once built, the SKA telescopes will have an expected lifespan of at least 50 years, making the HQ a global focal point for radio astronomy for decades to come.

Alongside hosting the SKA Global HQ, the UK also makes a financial contribution to the design, construction and operation of the SKA itself and the UK’s technical and scientific expertise will be built into the SKA’s DNA. Scientists and engineers at UK universities and institutions are involved right across the design of the SKA including UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

The SKA project offers the UK astronomy research community the opportunity to address some of the fundamental questions in research on the origin and evolution of the Universe. The technical innovations needed for the project will transform the capabilities of high-performance computing.

UK industry has also been involved with the design of the SKA with over fifty UK companies awarded contracts in systems engineering, project management and software development.

The opening of the SKA Headquarters marks a major milestone for this incredibly exciting scientific project”, said Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of UKRI’s Science and Technology Facilities Council

“The UK Government, through STFC, has committed £100m to the construction of the SKA and the headquarters itself and I am thrilled that the UK is hosting the home of this global endeavour. I look forward to seeing the headquarters filled with some of the brightest minds in the field of astronomy from across the world working to fulfil SKA’s mission to reveal more of the universe than ever seen before.”


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