Jodrell Bank Observatory welcomes UK Government Space Adviser on fact-finding trip

The University of Manchester’s policy engagement, Policy@Manchester, has hosted a visit to Jodrell Bank Observatory for a leading Parliamentarian with a special interest in its work.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris was appointed as the first ever UK Government Space Adviser in 2022, effectively trade envoy to the national space industry.

He was met by Professor Keith Grainge and Professor Simon Garrington, Associate Directors of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at The University of Manchester, for a tour beginning at the iconic Lovell Telescope.

With its 76-metre diameter reflecting surface, it has stood over the Cheshire plain since 1957. The telescope has been upgraded several times and remains one of the biggest and most powerful radio telescopes in the world, spending most of its time investigating cosmic phenomena which were undreamed of when it was conceived.

Mr Morris moved on to the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) where he was given a demonstration of low frequency antennas by Dr Simon Berry, head of the SKAO.Director-General’s Office. The SKAO is the world’s newest intergovernmental organisation created with the objective of constructing and operating radio telescopes in Australia and South Africa.

In addition to enabling transformative science, SKAO’s mission focuses on ensuring the maximum possible societal impact and engagement with the communities in which it will operate. Dr Berry’s team is responsible for the SKAO’s external and international relations activities, governance, strategic engagement and external communications.

The final stop on the visit was the First Light Pavilion under the guidance of Teresa Anderson MBE, Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement.

The First Light Pavilion is at the heart of a £21.5 million project to open up the heritage of Jodrell Bank to many more people. Audiences can see fascinating archive materials brought together for the first-time - including audio, film, diaries, letters, plans and photographs - in innovative digital displays and projections.

"It was terrific to welcome David to the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, the astronomical research centre of The University of Manchester.

"Our colleague Anna Scaife recently gave evidence to the House of Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Select Committee inquiry on UK astronomy where she rightly described Jodrell Bank - a UNESCO world heritage site for science and home to e-MERLIN, the UK’s national radio astronomy facility - as an iconic place.

"It is also home to the Bluedot festival, which celebrates science as part of culture and is instrumental in reaching those harder-to-reach audiences for science.

"David is fully engaged in what we do, and it was useful to exchange views and perspectives with him on our current and future activities."


David Morris MP said: "In my role as UK Government Space Adviser , I take a keen interest in the ongoing work at Jodrell Bank which I last visited in 2022.

"The commitment of The University of Manchester to astronomy and space research is well known.

"Indeed, the recommendations from its academics on areas such as international collaboration, space psychology and sustainable resources - as set out in Policy@Manchester’s publication On Space - remain at the heart of policy discussions in Whitehall and Westminster.

"I welcome the opportunity to tap into the latest thinking from the experts I met and look forward to returning to Jodrell Bank very soon."