IOP welcomes £290 m investment in international science projects
11 March 2014
The government is set to invest nearly £290 m in three major science projects over the next seven years – a move that has been warmly welcomed by the IOP.
The new money for the European Spallation Source, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the M3 Space Mission (PLATO) is expected to be announced by universities and science minister David Willetts in a speech at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics today.
The government will invest £165 m in the European Spallation Source to be built in Sweden; £100 m in the SKA radio astronomy project, which will have receivers spread across southern Africa and Australia and involve nations from five continents; and £25 m in the European Space Agency’s PLATO Space Mission, which will search for exoplanets, with a focus on identifying Earth-like worlds. The investments will be subject to successful international negotiation and will cover the period up to 2020/21.
The IOP’s chief executive, Prof. Paul Hardaker, said: “We’re delighted to see this clear commitment to our international partners to invest alongside them in these world-leading scientific activities. The facilities being developed not only push forward our scientific understanding but will also deliver results that can have an impact on our everyday lives. It is involvement in these sorts of projects that will keep the UK at the forefront of global science.”
Willetts is expected to say that visionary science projects such as these could help to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. He is due to explain how facilities such as the European Spallation Source underpin the work of scientists and engineers in developing new materials and technologies, and how projects such as the SKA could have spin-offs in data handling and signal processing, with potential applications in computing and electronic systems.