Liverpool’s exciting new telescope project is being showcased around the city in a series of ‘industry briefings’ run by Research and Innovation Services and the Astrophysics Research Institute.
LJMU’s £30m mission to build the world’s largest robotic telescope is not only seismic for science but also excellent news for engineering, technology and manufacturing based in the Liverpool City Region and further afield.
Arup (Liverpool), which is partnering with LJMU in the planning phase of the project, and names The Spine, Daresbury Science Park and the Liverpool Canal Link among its successes, hosted the inaugural event at its Old Hall Street HQ.
Associate Director Mike Brizell said: “We worked on the original Liverpool Telescope back in the early 2000s and have also consulted on the ELT (Extremely Large Telescope) in the US, so we are delighted to be back partnering LJMU.”
Arup is well advanced in its work helping the NRT consortium through the planning process on La Palma, where the 4-metre (mirror), 12.5m tall telescope will be built.
The partners, which include the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and The University of Oviedo, with financial backing from the Science & Technology Facilities Council (UK), have begun preparing the mountain-top site, which is a stone’s throw from the existing, 2-metre Liverpool Telescope.
So what’s new about the new telescope?
“It’s twice the size of our existing telescope and, as billed, the largest telescope of its kind which is fully autonomous and doesn’t rely on humans to be on site,” explained Dr Helen Jermak, Project Scientist from LJMU’s Astrophysics Research Institute.
“And its main advantage is that it can react much more quickly to celestial events, some of which are over in the blink of an eye.
“This facility is super-exciting because it responds to the slightest changes in the night sky and gathers real-time data – whether it be gamma ray bursts, stars pulsating, supermassive black holes or other objects we have never before witnessed.”
"It will rapidly provide a variety of data for astronomers across the world and, as with the Liverpool Telescope, there will be the opportunity for school children to request observations too!"
Inspiring a generation of problem-solvers
David Copley, NRT systems engineer, talked delegates through the latest developments and opportunities for construction and manufacture.
He said: “At LJMU we are currently building some of the systems in our labs but have partners both across the world and within the Liverpool City region where we're working with local companies to deliver key parts of this complex project"
Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Ndy Ekere said it was important to stress that ‘Made in Liverpool’ is a key theme.
“These are exciting, world-leading engineering challenges and by working together we are not only creating a telescope but also the capability in the region of generating new products, designs and technologies to apply to other walks of life.”
Note: The model NRT displayed in the video was built by Martha Kruk, a keen astronomer and student who studied her degree at Hugh Baird University Centre (accredited by UCLan), and used 3D printing facilities at LJMU.