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UK Science Minister visits SKA HQ

12 Jun 2019, 16:25 UTC
UK Science Minister visits SKA HQ

SKA Global Headquarters, Tuesday 14 May 2019 – The UK Science Minister Chris Skidmore MP has visited the SKA Global Headquarters located at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, UK. 
Following a speech at the Global Innovation Summit in Manchester, the UK’s Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research & Innovation visited the SKA Global Headquarters located at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire. 
In his speech, the minister mentioned his visit “to the headquarters of one of the most ambitious international science projects in history: The Square Kilometre Array – a project of such a huge scale that it gets to be called ‘mega-science”. He also highlighted how “increasing and strengthening international partnerships must be the future of scientific collaboration”.
During his visit at the SKA HQ, Minister Skidmore was briefed on the UK’s role in the SKA project by SKA Director-General Philip Diamond. Among the highlights were the University of Cambridge’s leadership role in designing the SKA’s complex Science Data Processor supercomputer, the “brain” of the SKA, whose international consortium successfully wrapped up work last week. Also highlighted was the University of Cambridge’s role in developing antenna prototypes for the SKA-low telescope to be located in Western Australia, and the University of Manchester’s leadership role in designing the SKA’s vast signal and data transport networks, the “backbone” of the SKA and a key element enabling the transfer of terabits of data per second from the telescopes to the SKA’s supercomputers and to the user community around the world. Also mentioned was the UK’s ratification of the international treaty that establishes the SKA Observatory, which the UK Ambassador to Italy Jill Morris signed in Rome in March 2019.

The minister had the opportunity to meet some of the engineers and researchers working on the SKA, including some of the young scientists currently working at the SKA HQ thanks to funding from the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council. 
The visit comes on the back of the recent announcement by the minister of the first 41 recipients of the UK’s Future Leaders Fellowships which aim to support groundbreaking research. Two of the fellows, Conor Fitzpatrick based at CERN and Alkistis Pourtsidou at Queen Mary University of London, are working on SKA-related research. 
This is the fourth visit by a UK science minister at the SKA HQ, following the visits by Jo Johnson, Greg Clark and David Willetts.
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