SKA sets up UK presence

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope’s international head office has been established in the United Kingdom (UK), a year after its setup in South Africa and Australia.

Located near Manchester, the management team in Jodrell Bank Observatory will take care of the telescope’s construction, design and scientific output.

The UK headquarters will be central to global team control which will build the SKA, known as the biggest radio telescope on Earth.

HumanIPO reported earlier this year on the intended SKA search for extraterrestrial life.

Funded by the University of Manchester, the 60 member-strong staff includes scientists and engineers, all residing in the building worth £3.34 million (US$53.2 million).

David Willetts, UK minister for universities and science, told the Mail&Guardian: “The Square Kilometre Array is set to be one of the world’s most exciting international science projects, giving us new and unparalleled insights into the universe.”

 According to John Womersley, chairman of the SKA Organisation and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the extension of the SKA base to the UK is a “major milestone” for the country.

 Currently in its design phase until 2016, the SKA is expected to operate by 2024 as financially mobilised by ten partnering countries working on the acquisition of funds. 

HumanIPO reported in April on the call for pre-construction proposals.

Apart from South Africa and the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Italy and Sweden are also part of the project, though the organisers are open to welcome new members.

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