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RAS and IOP back UK bid for HQ of world’s largest telescope

Last Updated on Monday, 23 March 2015 13:58
Published on Monday, 23 March 2015 11:33

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and the Institute of Physics (IOP) have responded to the decision of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation to extend its selection process to decide on where to site the permanent headquarters of the array.

SKA dishes smallArtist's impression of the antennas within the central core of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Credit: SKA Project Development Office and Swinburne Astronomy Productions - Swinburne Astronomy Productions for SKA Project Development Office. Click for a full size image.Set to cost €650 million (£475 million), the first phase of the SKA will consist of some 200 dishes in South Africa and 130,000 antennas in Australia, and the UK’s Jodrell Bank Observatory is competing with Castello Carrarese in Italy to host the headquarters. In 2014 the UK government announced funding of £100m for the SKA, which has been located at its current home at Jodrell Bank since 2011.

RAS President Prof. Martin Barstow offered his support to the UK. He said: "The SKA is an important facility that will allow us to probe closer to the beginnings of the universe than ever before. It’s exactly the kind of facility that we should want the UK to be involved in as much as possible – especially after already having invested so much in it."

IOP President Frances Saunders said: "We want all physicists and astronomers in the UK and Ireland to be able to access world-class facilities like this. Moreover, the UK physics and astronomy base is world-leading; the Jodrell Bank Observatory is one of the founding sites for radio-astronomy, and has done a great job as the current HQ for the SKA. The UK would make an excellent home for such a project, and we hope that the panel comes to a similar conclusion."

 

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Dr Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
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Sophie Hetherton
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Institute of Physics
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Notes for editors

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3800 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others. Follow the RAS on Twitter.

The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application. We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications. Follow the IOP on Twitter.