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RAS and IoP Presidents: SKA HQ is great news for radio astronomy and UK science

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 April 2015 12:43
Published on Thursday, 30 April 2015 11:48

The Presidents of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics have welcomed the decision to site the permanent headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in the UK.

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. Last year the UK government made a full commitment to the SKA project, announcing funding of £100m in addition to existing support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

SKA1 AU closeup midres.screen.smallArtist's rendition of the Australian SKA Low Frequency Aperture Array (LFAA) instrument. These dipole antenna, which will number in their hundreds of thousands, will survey the radio sky in frequencies as low as 50Mhz. Credit: SKA Organisation. Click to enlarge.The SKA HQ will remain at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire in northern England, the home of a major radio observatory since 1945. Construction of the SKA will begin in 2018 and the first observations are expected in 2020.

Prof. Martin Barstow, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, offered his congratulations: "I’m delighted that the UK has won this hard-fought contest. With its HQ here in the UK, SKA scientists will be able take advantage of the wealth of expertise Britain has in radio astronomy. It continues our long tradition of leading the world in this field, building on the pioneering work of Sir Bernard Lovell when he set up Jodrell Bank 70 years ago. Having a facility like this here in Britain demonstrates just how exciting a career in science and engineering can be – it shows young people that they really can reach for the stars."

Prof. Frances Saunders, President of the Institute of Physics, added her support: "Jodrell Bank can provide an excellent headquarters for the world's largest radio telescope. We can create a unique campus for one of the most inspirational science projects of the 21st Century, and a home for the project that welcomes scientists from around the world."


Further information

The full statement from the SKA outlines their reasons for the decision.


Media contacts

Dr Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 x214
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
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Sophie Hetherton
Media Officer
Institute of Physics
Tel: +44 (0)20 7470 4921
Mob: +44 (0)7808 641774
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Notes for editors

The Royal Astronomical Society
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 via @RoyalAstroSoc

The Institute of Physics
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. Visit us at Follow us on Twitter via @PhysicsNews