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  • The European Space Agency [ESA] and the United Kingdom government signed an agreement in principle to develop an ESA research centre at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

    (EMAILWIRE.COM, November 27, 2008 ) Swindon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom -- The European Space Agency [ESA] and the United Kingdom government have today (26 November 2008) signed an agreement in principle to develop an ESA research centre at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

    Lord Drayson, UK Minister for Science and Innovation and ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain signed the agreement to secure an ESA research centre in the UK at the ESA Ministerial conference taking place at The Hague. The research centre, which will be based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus (HSIC) in Oxfordshire, could be up and running within a year.

    Professor Keith Mason, Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council [STFC], one of the major partners in HSIC said, “STFC welcome this significant announcement, as I'm sure the UK space community will. The development of an ESA centre at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus is a direct result of the UK’s strong record in space, both within industry and in academia.

    The proposed space centre will place an emphasis on exploiting the benefits of space to terrestrial users, and knowledge exchange and development to support the future ESA programme, including planetary exploration and understanding the changing climate of the Earth. It will take full advantage of the unique environment being created at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus where state-of-the-art publicly funded scientific facilities will operate alongside industrial R&D.”

    Once established the new centre will expand ESA’s existing pan European infrastructure facilities by enabling the agency to develop key technologies and capabilities, particularly new work on climate change modelling that uses space data and the development of technologies for a new era of planetary exploration, including robotics and novel power sources.

    The ESA Ministerial Conference agreed an ambitious package of investment for Europe in space over the next 3-5 years (see DIUS press release: http://nds.coi.gov.uk/environment/fullDetail.asp?ReleaseID=385560&NewsAreaID=2&NavigatedFromDepartment=False) . Commenting on the package agreed, Professor Mason added "The commitment to the ESA programme expressed by member states underlines the growing importance of space as a critical national and international infrastructure. The package agreed today includes increased investment in ESA's science and exploration programmes, which will allow Europe to maintain its world-leading position in space research. This programme drives cutting edge technology development as well as inspiring young and old alike with spectacular discoveries about the solar system in which we live and the Universe beyond'.

    Notes for editors


    Peter Barratt
    STFC Press Office
    Tel: + 44 (0)1793 442 025
    Mob: + 44 (0)7879 602899
    Email: peter.barratt@stfc.ac.uk

    About STFC
    The Science and Technology Facilities Council is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
    We were formed as a new Research Council on 1 April 2007 through a merger of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and the transfer of responsibility for nuclear physics from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). We are one of seven national research councils in the UK.

    STFC is a science-driven organisation. We make it possible for a broad range of scientists to do the highest quality research tackling some of the most fundamental scientific questions.
    We do this by:

    -- funding researchers in universities directly through grants particularly in astronomy, particle physics, space science and nuclear physics.

    -- providing in the UK access to world-class facilities, including ISIS, the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS which closed in 2008), the Central Laser Facility, and HPCx. We are also a major stakeholder in the Diamond Light Source, which started operating this year.

    -- providing in the UK a broad range of scientific and technical expertise in space and ground-based astronomy technologies, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.

    -- providing access to world-class facilities overseas, including through CERN, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and telescope facilities in Chile, Hawaii, La Palma, Australia and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory.

    We supply highly skilled scientists and engineers and generate ideas and technologies that have a much broader social and economic impact.

    We encourage researchers to create new businesses based on their discoveries and we help established companies to use the fruits of our research as the basis of new or improved products and services.

    Our staff are deployed at 7 locations, namely: Swindon where the headquarters is based; the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, which is part of the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire; the Daresbury Laboratory, which is part of the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus in Cheshire; the Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire; the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh; the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes on La Palma in the Canary Islands; and the Joint Astronomy Centre in Hawaii.

    The Council distributes public money from the Government to support scientific research. Between 2008 and 2009 we will invest approximately £787 million.


    This press release was issued through GroupWeb EmailWire.com. For more information on unlimited press release distribution for $99 per year, go to http://www.emailwire.com.

    Science and Technology Facilities Counci
    Peter Barratt
    + 44 (0)1793 442 025

    Source: EmailWire.com

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