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  • richardmitnick 10:00 am on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Astrobiology - BISAL, Boulby Underground Laboratory, DRIFT-II, Muon Tomography and Deep Carbon and Muon-Tides, SKY-ZERO, STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council, Ultra-low Background Gamma Spectrometry   

    From STFC: “Boulby Underground Laboratory” 


    STFC

    10.4.17

    Welcome to Boulby Underground Laboratory, the UK’s deep underground science facility, located 1100m below ground in Boulby Mine on the North East coast of England.

    5

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    Boulby is one of just a handful of facilities world-wide suitable for hosting ultra-low background and deep underground science projects. Boulby is a special place for science – ‘a quiet place in the Universe’ – where studies can be carried out almost entirely free of interference from natural background radiation.

    Studies underway at Boulby range from the search for Dark Matter in the Universe, to studies of cosmic rays and climate, astrobiology and life in extreme environments, development of techniques for deep 3D geological monitoring and studies of radioactivity in the environment.

    For more information visit the Boulby Underground Laboratory website.

    Overview of the Laboratory

    The Boulby Underground Laboratory is one of just a handful of facilities world-wide suitable for hosting ultra-low background and deep underground science projects. Boulby is a special place for science – ‘a Quiet Place in the Universe’ – where studies can be carried out almost entirely free of interference from natural background radiation.

    The Boulby laboratory is located at Boulby Mine, between Saltburn and Whitby on the North-East coast of England and on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors.

    Boulby is a working potash, polyhalite and rock-salt mine operated by Cleveland Potash Ltd. At 1100m deep, it is the deepest mine in Great Britain.

    There are a huge network of roadways and caverns underground at Boulby with over 1000kms of tunnel having been excavated since beginning of mining operations in 1968. The salt and potash seams are left over from the evaporation of an ancient sea (the Zechstein Sea) over 200 million years ago. The main roadways and long-lasting caverns are cut into the rock-salt layer. Within the salt caverns, UK scientists and engineers have built a series of laboratories. With over 1100m of rock overhead reducing cosmic rays by a factor 1 million – and with the surrounding rock salt being low in natural background radioactivity – the laboratories make an ideal site for ultra-low background and deep underground science projects.

    The support facilities at Boulby include a dedicated surface building with staging / storage, workshop, health & safety, mess and office facilities. Underground there is over 1000m2 of laboratory floor space. The most recent laboratory space (the Palmer laboratory) has >750 m2 of clean-room floor space, with air conditioning / filtration, power, craning facilities, telephone and internet access, workshop & storage facilities etc. The mine operators Cleveland Potash Ltd provide additional essential support facilities.

    For a number of years Boulby has hosted the UK’s Dark Matter search studies, operating some of the most sensitive detectors in the world to try to detect Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) the strongest candidate for the missing matter in the universe. Boulby continues to host Dark Matter search studies, currently with the DRIFT-II project, the world most sensitive directional dark matter detector.

    Recently it has become clear that access and work-space in a deep underground environment is highly valuable in a broad range of science areas beyond astrophysics. This is very much in evidence at Boulby with a number of new studies underway or evolving including studies of cosmic rays and climate, astrobiology and life in extreme environments, development of techniques for deep 3D geological monitoring and various gamma spectroscopy studies of radioactivity in the environment. The Boulby Underground Science Facility is funded by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and operates in close partnership with the Boulby mine operating company Cleveland Potash Limited.

    DRIFT-II

    DRIFT is a low-pressure gas dark matter detector with direction-sensitivity for incident particles. In the search for Dark Matter a detector with direction-sensitivity is expected to provide the strongest signature in the case of a positive WIMP detection as well as enabling progress towards post-detection dark matter WIMP halo astronomy. DRIFT-II, the current DRIFT detector at Boulby, is the most sensitive directional dark matter in the world.

    DRIFT-II is a 1m3 gas-filled Time Projection Chamber (TPC) using electronegative (CS2) gas to reduce diffusion giving maximum track reconstruction resolution. DRIFT can operate in either spin-dependent or spin-independent mode depending on the fill gas mixture used. DRIFT is both limit-setting and undergoing R&D with various studies of technique/system performance and optimisation underway.

    Participating institutions:

    Sheffield University
    Edinburgh University
    Occidental College
    University of New Mexico
    Colorado State University

    SKY-ZERO

    SKY-ZERO is a Danish / UK project to better understand the role of cosmic rays in aerosol formation in the atmosphere. Aerosols are known to be important in climate models, but the mechanisms and variables behind their creation and growth are poorly understood.

    This experiment looks at the effect of controlled levels of ionisation on aerosol growth in an instrumented steel chamber containing pure air and trace additives to simulate, as well as possible, typical Earth’s atmospheres.

    Operating the experiment at Boulby and within a purpose build lead and copper ‘castle’ allows the ion-induced nucleation mechanism to be studied at lower ionisation levels than ever before. Thus enabling the investigation of (and unambiguous discrimination between) ‘neutral’ and ‘ion-induced aerosol’ nucleation and growth mechanisms.

    Participating institutions:

    Danish National Space Institute
    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    Birmingham University
    Manchester University
    Oxford University

    Muon Tomography and Deep Carbon, Muon-Tides

    Studies are underway to explore the use of Muon Tomography for deep 3D geological surveying applications. Muons are highly penetrating charged particles that are produced by cosmic rays from space and bombard the Earths atmosphere. On the Earth’s surface about 1 muon passes through an area the size of your hand per second.

    Deep underground muons are attenuated by many orders of magnitude but the muons that do penetrate can potentially be used to produce an ‘image’ of the structures above. The technique, ‘Muon Tomography’, is similar to CT scanning in medical imaging, but as muons are more penetrating than X-rays much larger and deeper structures can be imaged.

    Muon tomography has already been successfully used to image deep structures such as the interior of volcanoes and pyramids. Work is now underway to explore the use of the technique for imaging even deeper structures, with possible applications in mining and in monitoring for deep sub-surface storage initiatives such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). With its existing deep underground science facility, its depth and ease of access to underground spaces of various depths Boulby is uniquely well suited to the development of muon tomography techniques and instrumentation.

    Participating institutions:

    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    Durham University
    Sheffield University
    Bath University
    NASA-JPL

    Astrobiology – BISAL

    The field of ‘astrobiology’ seeks to investigate the limits of life on the Earth, the possibility of life beyond Earth, to prepare for the eventual human exploration and settlement of space and to apply this work to environmental challenges on the Earth. Boulby Mine, with its unique geology and existing deep underground science facility infrastructure, offers potential to make key advances in these areas.

    To facilitate Astrobiology at Boulby we are establishing the Boulby International Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory (BISAL) connected to the current Palmer Lab. A rich programme of Astrobiology work is underway for BISAL including studies of life at depth and life in salt (both of significance to studies of life on Mars), studies of the effects of radiation (and lack of it) on life and the evolution of life. Boulby is also being used as a UK ‘Analogue’ site where exploration techniques and instrumentation for the exploration of other planetary bodies can be tested in remote & realistic conditions (MINAR – Mining and Analogue Research). The analogue programme, run by the UK Centre for Astrobiology, currently involves other organisations including NASA, Surrey Space Centre and DLR.

    In addition to the usefulness in astrobiology it is anticipated that some of the instrumentation development work in the above will also be of relevance to industrial geological exploration needs, for example in mining, and effort will be made to explore and exploit these links when found.

    Participating institutions:

    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    Edinburgh University

    Ultra-low Background Gamma Spectrometry

    The technique of gamma spectrometry using high sensitivity germanium detectors enables researchers to measure and identify trace levels of radioactivity in samples – an important and useful capability in a variety of studies from material selection in ‘rare-event physics’ to numerous studies of the environment.

    Boulby currently operates a 2kg ultra-low background germanium detector for gamma spectrometry. Operating such a system deep underground, free of interference from cosmic rays, enables improved sensitivities of orders of magnitude compared to that achieved in surface facilities allowing the very lowest levels of radioactivity to be measured.

    Participating institutions:

    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    University College London
    Royal Holloway University
    Sheffield University
    Edinburgh University
    Glasgow University
    The Scottish University Environmental Research Centre (SUERC)

    Contacts

    For all enquiries, please contact:

    Dr Sean Paling
    sean.paling@stfc.ac.uk

    How to find us

    Boulby Underground Science Facility
    Boulby Mine
    Loftus, Saltburn-by-the-Sea
    Cleveland, TS13 4UZ

    Tel: +44 (0)1287 646 300
    Mob: +44 (0)781 5520 853

    Download a map of where we are

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:32 pm on September 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council   

    From STFC: “British technology at heart of gravitational wave discovery” 


    STFC

    27 September 2017
    STFC Media contact

    Jake Gilmore
    Jake.gilmore@stfc.ac.uk
    Mobile: 07970 994586
    First joint detection of gravitational waves with both the LIGO and Virgo detectors.

    British-designed and built technology being used in the hunt for gravitational waves has enabled another scientific first – and is now also helping fix broken bones.

    Scientists from 11 UK universities, and 20 other nations, have used a network of three observatories across the United States and Europe to detect the collision of two gigantic black holes, about 1.8 billion light years away. The use of three detectors allowed very precise measurement of the collision, which generated a huge burst of gravitational energy equivalent to about three times the total energy in our Sun. Gravitational waves are ripples in space, and cannot be detected through ordinary telescopes which use electromagnetic radiation such as visible light or gamma rays. Previous gravitational wave detections only used two detectors.

    The historic three-detector observation was made mid-morning on 14 August, by both detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Louisiana and Washington state in the US, and the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy. The detectors recorded the burst of energy as the two black holes – about 31 and 25 times the size of our Sun – spun together.

    Dr John Veitch, research fellow at the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy, co-led a team within the collaboration on working on the data analysis of the signal to determine the origins and properties of the source. He said: “This was a very strong first. The addition to the network of a signal from Virgo provided us with a lot of useful data. Having a third detector means that we can now triangulate the position of the source, and much more accurately determine the exact spot in the cosmos where the signal came from.”

    UK Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said “The latest detection of gravitational waves is an excellent example of international collaboration, which was only made possible due to the breakthrough work undertaken by UK scientists and engineers.

    “By developing our understanding of the Universe and identifying new fields of scientific research, we are continuing to build upon our reputation as being a world leader in science and innovation which is at the core of our Industrial Strategy.”

    Chief Executive Designate at UK Research and Innovation, Sir Mark Walport said: “Research and innovation are global endeavours. Breakthroughs in science involving many partners, such as this one, reinforce the importance the UK places on continuing to be a leading partner in the global scientific landscape.”

    Professor Brian Bowsher, Chief Executive of the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council said: “Today’s announcement helps us delve deeper into understanding how the Universe works. I am particularly pleased that the UK-built technology at the heart of this discovery is also now being used to improve medical treatments.”

    The LIGO detectors rely on British-designed technology to remove vibrations caused by natural and human activity, so that the incredibly tiny distortions caused by the gravitational waves can be accurately detected. That technology is being used in reverse to test a process to grow human bone in a laboratory. The new technique – known as “nanokicking” – vibrates stem cells thousands of times a second, to stimulate the production of bone cells. The new ‘bone putty’ has the potential to be used to heal bone fractures and fill bone where there is a gap.

    Professor Sheila Rowan, director of the Institute for Gravitational Research, said: “We’re proud to have played a role in this first new joint detection alongside our partners in the US and in Europe, which is an important advance for the field of gravitational wave astronomy.”


    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation


    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

    1
    Skymap showing how adding Virgo to LIGO helps in reducing the size of the source-likely region in the sky. (Credit: Giuseppe Greco (Virgo Urbino group)

    Professor Mark Hannam, from Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “Adding Virgo to the network has allowed us to pinpoint where the signal came from ten times better than before. This is an amazing improvement in the precision of gravitational-wave astronomy.”

    Professor Andreas Freise, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Gravitational Wave Astronomy, said: “Once again, we have detected echoes from colliding black holes but this time we can pinpoint the position of the black holes much more accurately thanks to the addition of the Virgo detector to the advanced detector network. Around ten years ago I was in charge of designing the core interferometer of the Advanced Virgo project. To see that instrument become a reality, and now helping to deliver significant results, is really special.”

    Professor Alberto Vecchio, also from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Gravitational Wave Astronomy, added, “We’re really proud of how our team have helped contribute to the success of this international network, from designing the equipment to analysing and interpreting the data. It is a truly exciting time for astronomy and astrophysics as we try to unravel the mysteries of the universe.”

    A paper about the event, known as GW170814, has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
    • Jose 12:35 pm on October 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Within a non-academic point of view, regarding gravitational waves, we should bear in mind there are various meanings of the expression gravitational waves, and those detected by LIGO experiment are not the cause of gravity force. From another perspective, they are not produced by accelerating mass but by violent merging bodies. Finally, because of the drag effect they produce, they are most probably related to the so-called expansion of the Universe and dark energy. https://molwick.com/en/gravitation/072-gravitational-waves.html

      Like

  • richardmitnick 1:01 pm on September 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council,   

    From STFC: “World’s largest x-ray laser facility is now open to users” 


    STFC

    http://www.stfc.ac.uk/news/worlds-largest-x-ray-laser-facility-is-now-open-to-users/

    1 September 2017
    Becky Parker-Ellis
    STFC Media office
    01793 444564

    1
    The main linac driving the European XFEL, suspended from the ceiling to leave space at floor level, photographed in January 2017. (Image: D Nölle/DESY).

    The global science community is celebrating the official inauguration of the world’s largest X-ray laser at the international research facility, the European XFEL. This event marks the start of user operation after eight years of construction.

    European XFEL is located in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, and is capable of generating extremely intense X-ray laser flashes that will offer new research opportunities for scientists across the world.

    UK scientists at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) have played a significant role in the creation of XFEL, by designing and creating the Large Pixel Detector (LPD) – a cutting edge X-ray camera that can capture images of ultrafast processes such as chemical reactions.

    In addition to the LPD, designed and built by STFC’s Technology Division, STFC’s Central Laser Facility is currently building a DiPOLE100 laser for the European XFEL (directly funded by STFC and EPSRC), where it will be used to recreate the conditions found within stars.

    The UK will soon be extending its relationship with XFEL by signing a partnership agreement, allowing UK researchers access to the facility through an STFC-managed subscription. The formal procedures of accession for the UK to join XFEL are underway. In anticipation of this being completed in the coming months the UK has already contributed the majority of its commitment towards the construction costs of the facility.

    Dr Brian Bowsher, Chief Executive of STFC, said: “The UK, through STFC, is already contributing a great deal to this project in terms of equipment and expertise, and we are looking forward to ratifying formally the UK’s involvement in XFEL. XFEL offers many exciting opportunities to the research community and STFC is delighted to support the UK’s involvement with this international facility.

    “Being asked to design and build significant technological infrastructure for XFEL is recognition of the leading reputation STFC’s technology and engineering teams have on the world’s stage.”

    About European XFEL

    The European XFEL is an international research facility of superlatives: 27,000 X-ray flashes per second and a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray sources will open up completely new opportunities for science. Research groups from around the world will be able to map the atomic details of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, take three-dimensional “photos” of the nanoworld, “film” chemical reactions, and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets. The construction and operation of the facility is entrusted to the European XFEL GmbH, a non-profit company that cooperates closely with the research centre DESY and other organisations worldwide.

    The company, which has a workforce of about 300 employees, entered in its operating phase on 4 July and has selected the first 14 groups of scientists to carry out their ambitious research projects at the facility from September 2017, including a team from the UK. With construction and commissioning costs of 1.22 billion euro (at 2005 price levels) and a total length of 3.4 kilometres, the European XFEL is one of the largest and most ambitious European research projects to date. At present, 11 countries have signed the European XFEL convention: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The United Kingdom is in the process of joining.

    STFC and XFEL

    In December 2014 the UK government announced that the UK would invest up to £30M (about 38 M€) to become a full member of the European XFEL as the result of the input received to the BIS Capital Consultation exercise. The UK will become the 12th member of the European XFEL project and STFC is now working with the European XFEL project and the other partners to negotiate UK membership.

    Diamond and XFEL

    The UK, through STFC-funded Diamond Light Source, is also the host for the UK’s XFEL hub. Housed within the existing Diamond infrastructure, the hub will enable users to fully prepare for their experiments with currently operating XFELs and the European XFEL when it comes online in Hamburg in 2017. The UK Hub (which is directly supported by MRC, BBSRC and the Wellcome Trust) will provide support in terms of sample preparation, data processing and training. There will also be a dedicated fibre link from Hamburg to Harwell enabling users to carry out data analysis back in the UK, with support from the UK Hub team.

    From CERN

    The European XFEL is the culmination of a worldwide effort, with European XFEL GmbH being responsible for the construction and operation of the facility, especially the X-ray photon transport and experimental stations, and its largest shareholder DESY leading the construction and operation of the electron linac. The facility joins other major XFELs in the US (LCLS) and Japan (SACLA), and is expected to keep Europe at the forefront of X-ray science for at least the next 20 to 30 years.

    Construction of the €1.2 billion European XFEL began in January 2009, funded by 11 countries, with Germany and Russia as the largest contributors, although no fewer than 17 European institutes contributed in-kind to the accelerator complex. “The European XFEL is the result of intense technological development in a worldwide collaboration that has exceeded expectations,” says Eckhard Elsen, CERN’s Director for Research and Computing. “It is an impressive example of how cutting-edge accelerator research can benefit society, and demonstrates the continuing links between the needs of fundamental research in particle physics and X-ray science.”

    A full account of the European XFEL and its superconducting linac, which appeared in the CERN Courier July/August 2017 issue, can be read here.

    3
    The European XFEL facility in Hamburg (on the right) and Schenefeld (Schleswig-Holstein) (Image: European XFEL)

    See the full STFC article here .
    See the full CERN article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:55 am on August 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , EISCAT [European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association], , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council   

    From STFC: “UK supporting Arctic project to build the most advanced space weather radar in the world” 


    STFC

    23 August 2017
    STFC Media Manager
    Jake Gilmore
    jake.gilmore@stfc.ac.uk
    +44 (0)7970 99 4586

    1
    An artist’s impression of what EISCAT_3D’s central radar site will look like. (Credit: NIPR)

    The most advanced space weather radar in the world is to be built in the Arctic by an international partnership including the UK, thanks to new investment from NERC [Science of the Environment], with scientific collaboration from STFC.

    The EISCAT [European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association]_3D radar will provide UK scientists with a cutting-edge tool to probe the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space, helping them understand the effects of space weather storms on technology, society and the environment.

    The UK government has placed space weather on the National Risk Register, in recognition of the potential damage it can do to satellites, communications and power grids. Solar storms drive space weather, but one of the biggest challenges in space weather science is improving our understanding of how the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere responds to this. EISCAT_3D will give scientists the means to understand these connections.

    Dr. Ian McCrea, from STFC RAL Space and the NERC Centre for Atmospheric Science, said:

    “This announcement represents the culmination of 15 years effort to secure UK involvement in a facility which will be the most sophisticated of its kind in the world. With advanced capabilities based on state-of-the-art radar technology, this new radar will significantly expand the opportunities for our scientists to study the outermost regions of the Earth’s atmosphere and their interaction with the space environment.”

    EISCAT_3D will provide us with a new way of spatially imaging the structure and dynamics of this important region, enabling us to contribute more effectively to growing international efforts to observe and forecast the effects of space weather, monitor the risks posed by space debris and probe the complex structure of the aurora.”

    A key capability of the radar will be to measure an entire 3D volume of the upper atmosphere in unprecedented detail. This is necessary to understand how energetic particles and electrical currents from space affect both the upper and the lower atmosphere. Scientists will be able to take measurements across scales from hundreds of metres to hundreds of kilometres, providing exceptional detail and vast quantities of data, and opening the scope of research that can be carried out.

    STFC’s RAL Space Director, Dr Chris Mutlow said:

    “I’m delighted that we’re able to bring our heritage in studying space weather to this fantastic new radar with our international partners. The level of detail it will provide represents a significant leap in our ability to understand the effects of space weather on our atmosphere and monitor space debris. This is critical to our national infrastructure as well as scientific advancement.”

    The northern hemisphere already hosts several EISCAT radars, situated in the so-called auroral oval – where you can see the northern lights or aurora borealis.

    2
    EISCAT Svalbard, Norway Radar

    3
    EISCAT radar dish in Kiruna, Sweden

    4
    EISCAT Ramfjordmoen facility (near Tromsø, Norway) in winter

    5
    EISCAT Sodankylä radar in Finland

    They take measurements in a region of the Earth’s upper atmosphere called the ionosphere – from about 70 to 1000 km altitude. They sample the electron concentration and temperature, and the ion temperature and velocity at a range of altitudes along the radar beam direction. But the current EISCAT radars provide a single pencil beam, so researchers can only look at one small portion of the sky at a given time.

    Dr Andrew Kavanagh, UK EISCAT Science Support, based at the British Antarctic Survey, said:

    “The new EISCAT_3D radar will measure the ionosphere in lots of different directions simultaneously. It will be like having hundreds of radar dishes all operating together. This means we can easily see changes in the ionosphere and not miss important data: when our measurements change we will be able to say whether something had just appeared or faded or if something was moving through the beams. This is really important as it gives us information about how space weather effects evolve.”

    Costing a total of £63m, the facility will be distributed across three sites in northern Scandinavia – in Skibotn, Norway, near Kiruna in Sweden, and near Kaaresuvanto in Finland. The project will start in September 2017 with site preparations beginning in summer 2018. The radar is expected to be operational in 2021.

    The site in Skibotn, Norway will have a transmitter and receiver array, while the two other sites will have receiver arrays. These will generate beams that will ‘look into’ the transmitted beam and give researchers many intersection heights.

    EISCAT Director, Dr Craig Heinselman, said:

    “Building on over three and a half decades of scientific observations with the legacy EISCAT radars, this new multi-site phased-array radar will allow our international user community to investigate important questions about the physics of the near-Earth space environment. The radar will make measurements at least ten times faster and with ten times finer resolution than current systems.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:24 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Large Pixel Detector, STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council   

    From STFC: “UK provides first advanced detector for world’s largest X-ray laser” 


    STFC

    17 August 2017

    Becky Parker-Ellis
    becky.parker-ellis@stfc.ac.uk
    STFC Media office
    01793 444564

    1
    The Large Pixel Detector. (Credit: European XFEL)

    One of the world’s fastest detectors, capable of capturing images in billionths of a second, has been developed by the UK for use at the world’s largest X-ray laser, the European XFEL.

    XFEL


    XFEL map

    The Large Pixel Detector (LPD) is the first advanced detector to be installed at the European XFEL in Hamburg, Germany. The LPD is a cutting-edge X-ray camera developed at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford.

    Dr Brian Bowsher, Chief Executive of STFC, said: “This is a significant milestone for the European XFEL and we are delighted to make such an important contribution to the project.

    “International collaborations are key to developing these state-of-the-art facilities and this work reinforces the international role STFC and the UK has in science.

    “It’s an extremely exciting time for the XFEL facility, and I am looking forward to seeing the first experiments taking place.”

    The LPD is the first fully functional X-ray light detector to record at a rate of 4.5 MHz—4.5 million pictures per second, fast enough to keep up with the European XFEL’s high repetition rate of 27,000 pulses per second, which are arranged into short bursts. The LPD will allow users to take clear snapshots of ultrafast processes such as chemical reactions as they take place.

    STFC’s Matthew Hart, the lead engineer who has worked on the LPD since 2007, said: “It’s such a great feeling to see the detector installed ready for experiments. It’s taken 10 years of development to meet some really challenging requirements and finally the day has arrived to see it working for real.

    “It was made possible thanks to the world class engineering team we have at STFC’s Rutherford lab in the UK, huge credit goes to them for their hard work and commitment over such a long and difficult project.

    “Now the detector is in the hands of the scientists at XFEL I’m really looking forward to hearing about their research and discoveries they will make.”

    The LPD operates far beyond the scope of any commercial detector or camera. Its design enables the detector to capture an image every 222 nanoseconds (billionths of a second)—an unprecedented rate that allows it to capture individual ultrashort X-ray laser flashes from the European XFEL. Additionally, the detector has a very high so-called dynamic range, meaning it can pick up signals as weak as a single particle of light, also known as a photon, and as strong as a flash of several tens of thousands of photons in two neighbouring pixels.

    In a typical experiment at the European XFEL, users will place samples in the path of incoming X-ray laser pulses in order to study their structure at the atomic level. Detectors will pick up the X-ray laser light scattering off of the sample, which often consists of individual molecules. The LPD’s high dynamic range allows for very high resolutions showing the finest details from samples.

    European XFEL Detector Development group leader Markus Kuster said: “The years of intensive collaboration with STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on the LPD have paid off, and resulted in a unique detector that can record data on the timescale of a billionth of a second.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:13 pm on July 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: An attosecond is to a second what a second is to 32 billion years: this is how fast the short pulses of light operated by a Free Electron Laser (FEL) particle accelerator could be operating at in the , Free Electron Lasers, , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council, STFC CLARA: (Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications   

    From STFC: “CLARA milestone beams light on next generation laser technology” 

    STFC

    5 July 2017
    No writer credit found.

    An attosecond is to a second what a second is to 32 billion years. This is how fast the short pulses of light operated by a Free Electron Laser (FEL) particle accelerator could be operating at in the not too distant future, unlocking new windows of scientific exploration.

    A brand new research facility that is currently under construction at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire is ready to become the world’s first facility designed to develop, test and advance new technologies for this next generation of FEL accelerator. CLARA (Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications) has just successfully generated its first electrons, a significant milestone in its development, as it aims to bring the UK’s world leading expertise and experience of FELs to a whole new level.

    CLARA Image 1[Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications] at STFC_s Daresbury Laboratory

    CLARA Image 2 [Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications] at STFC_s Daresbury Laboratory

    A FEL is unparalleled in its capability as a light source and is poised to be responsible for significant scientific breakthroughs in areas ranging from healthcare and new materials to sustainable energy. Scientists have already demonstrated its capabilities in a number of areas, from developing materials for the aero industry, to understanding new ways of controlling mosquito-borne diseases, to name a couple. But FEL technology is still at a relatively early stage and the potential for improvements is enormous. With very few FEL research capabilities in existence, new ideas and developments are extremely difficult to model and test experimentally.

    CLARA will provide the vital stepping stone between the development and testing of multiple new FEL technologies and their implementation onto any existing or planned FEL facility, in the UK or internationally.

    Professor Jim Clarke, Head of Science Division at STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Centre at Daresbury, said: “The next generation of FEL light sources will be a game changer in science research, and it is vital that we have the skills and facilities in place to be able to develop and test new FEL technologies. The design and development of CLARA has been particularly complex, so the generation of first electrons is a particularly exciting milestone. The impact of this is huge and will ensure that the UK has all the vital capabilities required should it choose to develop its own future FEL facility, whilst simultaneously contributing to R&D on an international scale, such as at the European XFEL in Germany.”

    CLARA’s first electrons were generated at around 4 million electron volts (MeV) and, over the next few months will go through a steady conditioning process, eventually ramping up to 50 MeV to be ready for use by the end of the year. It will also benefit from a new electron gun source that has been tested on VELA – another particle accelerator at Daresbury dedicated for research by industry. CLARA and VELA will be linked at source so that CLARA can also help support research on VELA. Once fully constructed CLARA will extend to 90 metres and its beam will reach a staggering 250 MeV – 99.99% of the speed of light! Its flexibility and tuneability means that it will be able to test out numerous FEL technologies for use in future FEL facilities, both in the UK and internationally.

    Professor Susan Smith, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “This milestone is a fantastic achievement for all STFC’s scientists, engineers and collaborators who are working on CLARA. Reaching this milestone is confirming the UK’s ability to build, develop and demonstrate its scientific skills and techniques in X-ray Free Electron Laser technology, which brings us exciting prospects for the future of next generation light sources. This is technology that will change people’s lives for the better.”

    Read further information about STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Centre.

    About Free Electron Lasers

    Free Electron Lasers (FELs) are an increasingly important kind of light source. Standard lasers can be very bright sources of visible light but they soon fade away in the deep ultra-violet and x-ray regions of the spectrum. FELs represent a radical alternative to conventional lasers, being the most flexible, high power and efficient generators of tuneable coherent radiation from the infra-red to the X-ray. FELs can have the optical properties that are characteristic of conventional lasers such as high spatial coherence and a near diffraction limited radiation beam, but FELs combine a high energy electron beam and a magnet called an undulator in such a way that all of the electrons emit light of the same wavelength at the same time, producing huge bursts of light. The latest FELs produce pulses of X-ray light that are powerful and fast enough for scientists to take stop-motion pictures of atoms and molecules in motion.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:03 pm on April 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chilbolton Observatory, Meteorology radio communications and astronomy, STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council   

    From STFC: “Chilbolton Observatory celebrates 50 years of searching the skies” 

    STFC

    10 April 2017
    Becky Parker
    rebecca.parker@stfc.ac.uk
    STFC Media Officer
    Tel: 07808 879294

    Chilbolton Observatory, located on the edge of the village of Chilbolton near Stockbridge in Hampshire, England. The facilities are run by the STFC Radio Communications Research Unit of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and form part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

    One of the world’s most advanced weather radar research facilities, which is based in the UK, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week.

    Since opening on 14 April 1967, the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Chilbolton Observatory has been utilising state-of-the-art instrumentation to make observations of weather and space.

    The observatory, which is run by STFC’s RAL Space, enables world-leading research into meteorology, radio communications and astronomy.

    Director of RAL Space Dr Chris Mutlow said: “Celebrating this momentous anniversary is a proud moment for STFC, RAL Space and the community of users who access the facilities.

    “It is particularly significant for those who have contributed to its growth, and enjoyed the many achievements and amazing science that have taken place there.

    “We look forward with great anticipation to the coming 50 years and celebrating the continued successes of the facility, which are made possible thanks to the dedicated staff.”

    The site was an RAF airfield during World War Two that was adapted for the US Airforce and their heavy bombers. After the war, the airfield was used by local aviation companies for aircraft testing and saw some of the UK’s earliest supersonic flights. It was decommissioned in 1963 and construction of the Chilbolton Observatory began in 1964.

    The most noticeable characteristic of the site is the fully steerable 25 metre antenna, known colloquially as ‘the dish’. Its great size makes it sensitive enough to pick up the faintest of signals emitted from radio stars in space, but also as a radar to detect satellites in Earth orbit several thousand kilometre above, or rain and cloud several hundred kilometres away. Since its inception the dish has proved to be a continually adapted tool to provide key data for researchers around the world.

    Robin Watson was a member of AEI’s Apprentice Training School at Trafford Park and spent three months helping to build the dish. He said: “I remember that the construction process didn’t go completely smoothly. The 400 tonne dish was designed to pivot vertically so that it could point in any direction from straight upwards to directly at the horizon.

    “The weight of the dish had to be counterbalanced so that it would move smoothly, and they mixed up a steel and concrete ballast to do the job. However, they didn’t get the calculations for the mix quite right – the dish would move downwards all right, but couldn’t be persuaded to go back up again. In the end, they had to weld steel counterweights onto the structure itself to compensate.

    “I recently visited Chilbolton again and the staff were kind enough to show me round the site. I’m pleased to see that our dish is still working smoothly all these years later.”

    In the 1960s and 1970s, the dish supported pioneering research in radio astronomy. That work is no longer done with the 25m antenna, but since 2010, the observatory has supported radio astronomy observations with LOFAR (Low Frequency Array).

    SKA LOFAR core (“superterp”) near Exloo, Netherlands

    The antenna hosts the Chilbolton Advanced Meteorological Radar (CAMRa), which is the world’s largest fully steerable weather radar. Thanks to this powerful radar, and an ever-growing suite of sophisticated research instruments, the Chilbolton Facility for Atmospheric and Radar Research (CFARR) is renowned for its capabilities in atmospheric and weather measurements, thus supporting research to improve numerical models used to analyse and forecast storms and flooding.

    Station Manager at the Chilbolton Observatory, Darcy Ladd, who has worked at the observatory for the past 23 years, said: “All of the people who work here, including me, are really proud of the contributions the Observatory has made to science and engineering. We look forward to supporting more research for years to come.

    “I would also like to thank the people of Chilbolton and Wherwell for their continuing support and making us feel welcome in the local community.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
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