World’s largest radio telescope has a permanent home for its headquarters

SKA Organisation headquarters, Jodrell Bank, UK - At their meeting yesterday Wednesday 29 April, the Members of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation decided that negotiations should start with the UK government to locate the permanent headquarters of the SKA project in the UK, at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank site.

Published by the editorial team, 30 April 2015

Jodrell Bank houses the headquarters of the multinational SKA project for the current pre-construction phase. These premises will eventually be expanded to support the project as it transitions into the construction phase.

"I am delighted that a permanent home for the SKA headquarters has been identified", said Professor Philip Diamond, Director General of the SKA Organisation. "Clarity over the location of the headquarters is an important step for SKA, ahead of international negotiations to form an inter-governmental organisation and the beginning of construction in 2018."

The process for selecting the permanent headquarters began in 2014 when, following an agreed plan, Members were invited to submit bids. Two bids were received, from Italy and the United Kingdom, both of which were judged to be excellent and both suitable for the project's needs. After thorough consideration, the Members of the SKA Organisation expressed their preference for the United Kingdom's Jodrell Bank site as the future home for the SKA headquarters, thanks to the strong package offered by the UK government.

The UK plan, backed by the UK government via the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the University of Manchester and Cheshire East Council, as well as Oxford and Cambridge Universities, envisages designing and constructing a unique campus for one of the most inspirational science projects of the 21st Century. The headquarters will be constructed to meet the needs of the SKA project and there is space to grow if the project requires it in the future.

Members thanked the Italian government for submitting such a compelling bid, which demonstrates the very high profile the project has acquired in Italy. The SKA Director General and the SKA Board will work with Italian representatives to ensure that the high visibility and political support for the project in Italy can continue to maximise Italy's engagement in the project.

"Italy has been a key partner of the SKA since the early stages of the project", said Professor Diamond. "I am confident they will maintain a high level of engagement on all fronts and I look forward to working with them as well as with all the other partner countries as we move into the next phase of the SKA."

About the SKA

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world's largest radio telescope, led by the SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of telescopes or instruments, called an array, to be spread over long distances. The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (called SKA1) in South Africa and Australia; Phase 2 (called SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the component in Australia also being expanded.

Already supported by 11 member countries - Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom - the SKA Organisation has brought together some of world's finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

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