9 February 2017
The UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson MP visited the SKA Headquarters at Jodrell Bank on Thursday to be briefed on the international Square Kilometre Array project.
UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson MP meeting SKA Director-General Professor Philip Diamond, STFC’s Director of Programmes Professor Grahame Blair and STFC Executive Director Sharon Cosgrove.
(Credit: SKA Organisation)
The Minister was received by SKA Director-General Professor Philip Diamond and STFC’s Executive Director of Programmes Professor Grahame Blair. STFC represents the UK as part of the SKA Consortium. The Minister was briefed on the current status of the project, including the ongoing negotiations to establish the SKA as an intergovernmental organisation, and was shown the plans for the new SKA Global Headquarters on site, whose construction is due to start in the next few weeks.
“We want our world-leading science sector to continue to flourish, which is why we made science, research and innovation one of the key pillars of our Industrial Strategy.” said Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson.
“We are committed to the international SKA Project and proud to be hosting what will be its global headquarters at Jodrell Bank. It will welcome world-class scientists and engineers to work on cutting-edge international collaborations to better understand our Universe.”
As a running observatory, the SKA Global Headquarters will oversee the procurement, construction and operation of the two SKA telescopes located in Australia and South Africa. Industry from the SKA member countries including the UK will be involved in procuring the elements to build the telescopes.
The new SKA Headquarters should be fully operational by mid-2018.
The SKA will be the next generation radio telescope array, with a transformational impact. It was originally conceived as a “Hydrogen Pulsar” telescope, but it will provide a sea change in most areas of astronomy. Early science is scheduled to begin in 2020. The UK is contributing £100 million, representing about 18-19% of the project, to the construction of the instrument and STFC represents the UK as part of the SKA consortium.
STFC is working with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Innovate UK, KTN and UKTI to develop and execute the industry strategy and support UK Industry being involved in the SKA project. STFC provide a single point contact for Industry to engage with the SKA. This support is there to nurture new spin offs, open new markets for UK Industry to SKA Member countries and allow companies to tender for SKA construction contracts.
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation based at the Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.
The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of telescopes or instruments, called an array, to be spread over long distances. The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (called SKA1) in South Africa and Australia; Phase 2 (called SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the component in Australia also being expanded.
Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.
Learn more about the SKA Headquarters project.