The headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array will be based in Cheshire

Square Kilometre Array radio telescope HQ to be in UK

The headquarters of the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, will be based in the UK, the project’s stakeholders announced today.

The telescope, currently under construction in Australia, is expected to start operating in 2020.

The organisation behind the project said it chose to operate from Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, which is home to a radio observatory operated by the University of Manchester.

All member states participating in the project were invited to bid for the opportunity to host the headquarters in 2014 and the organisation said they were also considering a proposal from Italy.

"This is major boost for UK science and for our vision of a northern powerhouse,” said Chancellor George Osborne.

"One of the most important scientific projects in the world will be run out of Manchester and Cheshire. Everyone from the Prime Minister down has fought hard for this day. And it means more jobs and scientific excellence for the North of England and the whole UK."

The Square Kilometre Array (Ska) observatory will consist of a network of radio antennas with a collecting area of one square kilometre and multiple receiving stations between Australia and South Africa.

Designed as the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, the technology will help scientists to look in to many mysteries of the universe, including the nature of gravity and the existence of extra-terrestrial life.

The Ska project has already occasionally been working out of Jodrell Bank, home to the famous 76m (250ft ) Lovell radio dish.

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