Manchester University has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for its Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics to be the global headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope.
The €1.5bn SKA project involving 17 countries will comprise thousands of antennae that will allow astronomers to collect information over one million square metres. It will give astronomers the ability to probe the early universe, test Einstein’s theory of relativity, learn more about dark matter and energy and even search for signs of alien life.
Prof Phil Diamond, director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, said: ‘The Square Kilometre Array looks set to become one of the great scientific projects of the 21st century and we are very proud that its global headquarters will be here in Manchester.’
‘This powerful new telescope will greatly extend our knowledge of the universe’, said Prof Richard Schilizzi, International SKA Director. ‘Not only will it improve our understanding of objects ranging from black holes to the earliest stars and galaxies, but it is also bound to discover as yet unknown phenomena.’
The engineers who will work in the new headquarters will be responsible for leading the design effort on SKA, coordinating the work of many scientists and engineers world-wide. Funding for the headquarters is being provided by the EC.
Prof Alan Gilbert, president and vice-chancellor of Manchester University said: ‘The timing of this announcement is particularly appropriate as today also marks the 50th anniversary of the completion of the giant Lovell radio telescope at the university’s Jodrell Bank Observatory.’
The UK SKA consortium also includes the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow and Leeds.