23 April 2012
Construction work on a £3m new office development at the Jodrell
Bank Observatory has started on site.
The offices will house the Square Kilometre
Array (SKA) project team that will oversee the development of the
new €1.5bn SKA radio telescope which will be located in South
Africa or Australia.
Capita Symonds is providing project/cost
management; civil and structural engineering; services engineering;
BREEAM; acoustics and CDMC services on the project on behalf of the
University of Manchester.
Designed by architects Fielden Clegg Bradley
and constructed by John Turner & Sons, the new offices will
house approximately 60 staff - including visiting international
scientists - and will be set in the grounds of the existing world
famous Lovell Telescope near Holmes Chapel in Cheshire.
The SKA will be a
revolutionary radio telescope made of thousands of receivers linked
together across an area the size of a continent. The total
collecting area of all the SKA receivers combined will be
approximately one square kilometre, making the SKA the largest and
most sensitive radio telescope ever built.
Radio telescopes detect radio-frequency signals from
space. They provide alternative views of the universe to those seen
with optical telescopes and can reveal areas of space that may be
obscured with cosmic dust.
The SKA will cover the radio frequency range 70 MHz –
10 GHz, giving astronomers an insight into the formation and
evolution of the first stars and galaxies after the ‘Big Bang’; the
role of cosmic magnetism; the nature of gravity; and possibly life
Two locations are under consideration: Southern
Africa and Australia/New Zealand. The final site decision will be
made later this year and will be based on several factors including
the operating and infrastructure costs, as well as levels of radio
Capita Symonds’ contract, which follows the
company’s successful completion of the Visitor Centre at Jodrell
Bank Observatory, was secured via the GPS Buying Solutions