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Jodrell Bank's future secured by new funding

The Jodrell Bank telescope has been secured for the "medium and long-term future", the University of Manchester said today.

The Government's Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has agreed to contribute towards the running costs of the radio astronomy centre in Cheshire, the university said.

The cash will initially provide two years of funding for the e-MERLIN project, which comprises two telescopes at Jodrell Bank, as well as dishes at Pickmere and Darnhall in Cheshire, Knockin in Shropshire, Defford in Worcestershire and one in Cambridge.

A university spokesman added that the long-term future of Jodrell Bank will be secured by a further commitment by the STFC to invest in the development of the next generation facility in radio astronomy, the Square Kilometre Array.

Professor Alan Gilbert, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester, said: "We are delighted that the STFC has recognised the scientific importance of e-MERLIN and the Square Kilometer Array, and that they have provided a commitment to fund these important projects, which will guarantee the future of Jodrell Bank."

Jodrell Bank began life when Sir Bernard Lovell installed some old army radar equipment at the site in 1945, with the landmark Lovell telescope opening in 1957.

A 250ft, fully-steerable radio telescope, it was the only one in the world capable of tracking Sputnik 1's carrier rocket and remains one of the biggest and most powerful radio telescopes in the world.

The annual running costs of e-MERLIN are around £2.5million, the university said.

Figures have not been confirmed for the Square Kilometre Array, which will comprise telescopes in Australia and South Africa but will have headquarters at Jodrell Bank.

The university promised the Square Kilometre Array will be the most advanced telescope in the world when it is in operation by 2020.