Universities and Science Minister David Willetts will announce a significant new package of investment for cutting-edge science projects during a speech at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre this afternoon (Tuesday).
Among the projects, Mr Willetts will pledge £100million to the construction of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – a radio telescope array across South Africa and Australia with headquarters at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire.
The SKA will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes.
During this afternoon’s announcement, Mr Willetts will also earmark £165million of UK investment for the European Spallation Source, a project to build a ‘super microscope’ in Sweden, as well as a further £25million for a European Space Agency mission, called Plato, to build a giant space telescope to find and study planets capable of supporting life.
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Notes for editors
The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the big bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project. Visit the SKA website: www.skatelescope.org