The University of Manchester

Jodrell Bank Observatory cordially receives British Government Space Adviser for enlightening expedition

The University of Manchester’s policy engagement initiative, Policy@Manchester, recently hosted a visit to Jodrell Bank Observatory for a prominent Parliamentarian with a special interest in its work. David Morris, Member of Parliament for Morecambe and Lunesdale, was appointed as the first-ever UK Government Space Adviser in 2022, effectively becoming a trade envoy to the national space industry.

During his visit, Morris was greeted by Professor Keith Grainge and Professor Simon Garrington, Associate Directors of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at The University of Manchester. The tour began at the iconic Lovell Telescope, which has proudly overlooked the Cheshire plain since 1957 with its impressive 76-metre diameter reflecting surface. Despite undergoing multiple upgrades, the telescope remains one of the largest and most powerful radio telescopes globally, dedicated to exploring cosmic phenomena that were unimaginable at its inception.

Mr. Morris then proceeded to the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO), where he received a demonstration of low-frequency antennas by Dr. Simon Berry, head of the SKAO Director-General’s Office. The SKAO, a recently established intergovernmental organization, aims to construct and operate radio telescopes in Australia and South Africa. In addition to advancing scientific discoveries, the SKAO is committed to maximizing its societal impact and engaging with the communities it serves. Dr. Berry’s team plays a crucial role in the SKAO’s external relations, governance, strategic engagement, and communication efforts.

The visit concluded with a stop at the First Light Pavilion, led by Teresa Anderson MBE, Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement. This pavilion is part of a £21.5 million project designed to make Jodrell Bank’s heritage more accessible to a wider audience. Visitors can now explore fascinating archive materials, including audio, film, diaries, letters, plans, and photographs, through innovative digital displays and projections.

Expressing his thoughts on the visit, David Morris MP stated, “As the UK Government Space Adviser, I have a keen interest in the ongoing work at Jodrell Bank, which I last visited in 2022. The University of Manchester’s dedication to astronomy and space research is widely recognized. The recommendations put forth by their academics on topics such as international collaboration, space psychology, and sustainable resources, as outlined in Policy@Manchester’s publication ‘On Space,’ continue to shape policy discussions in Whitehall and Westminster. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the experts I met and eagerly anticipate my next visit to Jodrell Bank.”

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