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  • Treaty Signing Marks Siting of International HQ for SKA
    The initial signatories of the SKA Observatory Convention. From left to right: UK Ambassdor to Italy Jill Morris, China’s Vice Minister of Science and Technology Jianguo Zhang, Portugal’s Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor, Italian Minister of Education, Universities and Research Marco Bussetti, South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the Netherlands Deputy Director of the Department for Science and Research Policy at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science Oscar Delnooz, and Australia’s Ambassdor to Italy Greg French. (Credit: STFC)

Treaty Signing Marks Siting of International HQ for SKA

Mar 21 2019 Read 528 Times

The UK has formally become the home of the new intergovermental organisation that has seen development of the World’s biggest ever radio telescope – the Square Kilometre Array (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.

The treaty signing in Rome (March 12), also established the siting of the international nerve centre of this project at Jodrell Bank in the UK, one of the seven founding countries behind the project.

UK Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Science has no borders and the UK’s hosting of the global HQ of this international project demonstrates our leading position and influence in scientific collaboration and exploration.

“For generations Jodrell Bank has inspired young people and inspired children to take an interest in science and will now inspire the next generation of scientists.”

In addition to the UK’s financial contribution to the design, construction and operation of the SKA, the UK’s technical and scientific expertise will be built into the SKA’s DNA.

Anna Scaife, Professor of Radio Astronomy at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics said of the announcement "Today is a landmark date for one of the great global scientific undertakings of the 21st century. Signing the treaty for SKA brings us closer to answering some of the most important questions in advancing our understanding of the Universe. It's enormously exciting for the UK astronomy community to be a key partner in this project. For me, the SKA project is not only about astronomy but also about pushing the boundaries of computing and technology. The technological solutions we create to detect signals from the furthest depths of the Universe are made possible only by looking beyond what is currently available here on Earth."

Radio astronomy allows us to ‘see’ invisible celestial objects, or those hidden in other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, through detection of the radio waves they emit. As the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world, it will stretch technology to its limits and UK engineers, technologists and astronomers will be at the forefront of making this project a success. Scientists and engineers at UK universities and institutions are involved right across the design of the SKA including from the Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge and from the UKRI STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

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.

In addition 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. At the same time the technical innovations needed for the project will transform the capabilities of high-performance computing.

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