Spotlight on: Space
Welcome to the first Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Spotlight.
This month we are highlighting just a few examples of the huge range of vital space-related research work done by academics and researchers around the Faculty – from launching more sustainable satellites to improving what we can see of, and learn from, space. Below are some highlights, but there is lots more to dig into, linked below.
Watch: our latest space research
Watch: space bitesize
How we led a project to launch a satellite on a SpaceX mission.
Manchester scientists made space bricks that could be used on Mars.
Discover: our case studies
Jodrell Bank: inspiring, educating and reaching new audiences
Our researchers at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre are reaching previously underserved audiences, thanks to the development of a broad and innovative programme of activity.
The centre has attracted visitors in their millions, and encourages people of all ages to engage with our pioneering research, from pulsars to cosmology. It has inspired young people to learn more about STEM, driven tourism and had a major cultural impact – not least through the unique and mesmerising Bluedot festival.
In 2019 Jodrell Bank was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and continues as a world-leading research centre.
Using radio astronomy to bring STEM training to the developing world
The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics has successfully established the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy with Big Data (DARA Big Data) programme, which aims to develop high tech skills in African countries.
It is also a leading institute in the precursor DARA project that delivers STEM training and advancement opportunities across sub-Saharan Africa.
The impact is truly global – with programmes working from Africa and the Americas to Europe and Southeast Asia – and is laying the foundations for developing regions to thrive.
Raising the profile of cosmology and particle physics (the Brian Cox effect)
Our research has heightened public awareness and driven interest in cosmology and particle physics.
Brian Cox has established himself as one of the world's leading science presenters. His research conducted at The University of Manchester was crucial in establishing this success, adding an appreciated authenticity to his insights.
Brian Cox's most recent tour and book, Universal, focused heavily on cosmology. Many of the key concepts explored were born out of the achievements of the European Space Agency's remarkable Planck satellite project.
Manchester research played a crucial role in the success of the Planck satellite programme. Such engagement has resulted in the public better understanding, appreciating and enjoying science.
Establishing the wondrous Square Kilometre Array
The international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope will be the largest scientific facility in the world – and The University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics has been central to its establishment.
To be constructed this decade by a consortium of 15 member countries, the multinational radio astronomy infrastructure will comprise thousands of dishes and up to one million low-frequency antennas. Synchronisation across this array of antennas to within a billionth of a second will allow them to function as two colossal radio telescopes with a combined collecting area in excess of one square kilometre. This will enable astronomers to monitor the sky like never before.
SKA operations are spread across three continents: a low-frequency radio telescope in Western Australia, a mid-frequency radio telescope in South Africa, and headquarters – right here – at Jodrell Bank.