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Big is Beautiful

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:48
Published on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 00:00
Understanding the Universe requires large, pan-European research facilities and  large-scale computing facilities. Meanwhile the UK government's investment in large scientific facilities is beginning to reap rewards.

Michael Bode FRAS, Professor of Astrophysics at Liverpool John Moores University, has been charged with the vital task of developing the new 'roadmap’, which will act as the blue print for the development of astronomy in Europe over the next 20 years. The roadmap will detail the infrastructure needed to deliver European astronomy’s science vision.
• Do we understand the extremes of the Universe?
• How do galaxies form and evolve?
• How do stars and planets form?
• How do we fit in?

To answer these questions will require development of existing infrastructure as well as European wide investment in new facilities. The infrastructure roadmap is crucial to the success of Europe’s ASTRONET project, which is aiming to consolidate and reinforce the  position that European astronomy has attained. Working on behalf of the eleven ASTRONET agencies( including the UK's PPARC) and with the European astronomy community, Professor Bode will devise a priority list of space missions and ground-based facilities to be developed over the next two decades. He will report his recommendations in mid 2008.

Meanwhile investment in large scientific facilities in the UK is starting to deliver a significant programme including such projects as the the Halley V and VI research stations. This is the finding of a NAO report published today. The Department of Trade and Industry through the Research Councils invests in large scientific facilities to support and develop the nation’s scientific base. Currently, £830 million has been earmarked from a central fund to 15 projects. The Report can be read here