The application is from the University of Manchester, which owns,
maintains and operates the Lovell Telescope (LT). The LT is however
in many ways a national institution in its own right, both in the
public mind and through its research activities.
- The LT is a grade I nationally listed building. The associated
visitor centre attracts around 150,000 visitors each year and
fulfills a major function in the inspiration of children of school
age throughout the North West to careers in science, engineering and
- The LT currently spends around 25% of its time operating as part of
the MERLIN National Facility and as the UK element of European and
global VLBI networks. Observing time for these activities is
allocated purely on scientific merit through national and
international peer review. The upgraded LT is expected to spend up to
half of its time on these activities and will greatly enhance the
science achievable, for instance more than doubling the sensitivity
of MERLIN at 5 GHz.
- Apart from the researches conducted by University of Manchester
astronomers, the LT is available for use by other UK
institutions. For example, the University of Wales at Cardiff are
currently using a newly-developed multibeam receiver system for a
neutral hydrogen search for low surface brightness `crouching giant'
galaxies. In the future, the high-frequency spectral capability
will also make it a valuable instrument for the burgeoning
- There is great public and media interest in the current, most
sensitive search ever, for signals from extra-terrestrial
intelligence undertaken in collaboration with the SETI Institute.
There was similar headline interest when the LT was used in an attempt
to detect NASA's lost Mars Observer space mission in 1995. The
nation expects the UK to be involved in such activities, and this
involvement is only possible through the LT continuing to work at the
forefront of technology and discovery.