SKA headquarters inaugurated


Less than a year after the decision to site the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope in South Africa and Australia, the SKA Organisation has officially opened its new international headquarters in the UK.

The SKA Organisation headquarters, which will be home to the team managing the construction, design and scientific output of the telescope, is located at Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester, UK.

Positioned in view of the iconic Lovell Telescope, the headquarters will be the central control hub for a global team who, over the next decade, will be building the SKA – the largest radio telescope ever seen on Earth.
“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,” says UK minister for universities and science David Willetts.

John Womersley, chairman of the SKA Organisation and CEO of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), says the opening of the SKA headquarters at Jodrell Bank means the world’s largest radio telescope now has a home in the UK – a “major milestone” for the country.

Funded by the University of Manchester, the £3.3 million (R46 million) building will eventually be home to upwards of 60 members of staff, including visiting scientists and engineers.

Designed by architects Fielden Clegg Bradley and built by John Turner Construction Group, the building uses environmentally friendly engineering solutions by Capita Symonds for minimal environmental impact, in line with the SKA organisation’s long-term aims for the entire project.

Built in just over six months, the SKA Organisation office has been in use since November, but saw its opening ceremony yesterday.

Meanwhile, research organisations and industrial partners around the world were recently invited to collaborate and submit proposals on the research and development and design of the telescopes and instrumentation that will become the heart of the SKA. The organisation says this first round of proposals is expected to be evaluated and assessed at the new offices in July.

SKA Director General Philip Diamond aid that, “We are now firmly on the journey to create one of the most iconic scientific instruments of the 21st Century.”