Feeds

Space boffins save BT's satellite station for Mars missions

Booming space industry to upgrade historic Goonhilly dishes

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Space scientists will redevelop BT's historic Goonhilly satellite station in Cornwall to allow communication with missions to Mars, it is revealed today.

The mothballed site will also become a centre of cutting-edge astronomical research as part of a network of huge radio telescopes.

Arthur, the world's first parabolic satellite comms dish.
By madnzany on flickr.

BT finally shut down most operations at Goonhilly in 2008. The first dish, Grade II-listed "Arthur", was built in 1962 to communicate with Telstar, which relayed the first live transatlantic TV broadcasts.

The new deal sees the creation of a new company, Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) Ltd, set up by Orbit Research Ltd and Oxford University. Qinetiq, the UK Space Agency and the International Space Innovation Centre are also backing the project.

Although they have plans to redevelop the vistor centre and launch community outreach programmes, consortium's first priority will be to upgrade the site's antennae for deep space communications and radio astronomy.

"We have plans to go one stage further [than before] and to use the antennas at Goonhilly to support space science missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond," said GES chief executive Ian Jones.

Goonhilly will be linked with the famous Jodrell Bank site, near Manchester, for radio telescopy, forming what is hoped will act as a stepping stone in the development of the Square Kilometre Array, a European plan to build the world's largest telescope in the southern hemisphere.

"Goonhilly telescopes can also be connected to global radio astronomy networks that will eventually include the Square Kilometre Array," said Steve Rawlings, professor of astrophysics at Oxford University.

"The Square Kilometre Array will attack truly fundamental questions: the origin and fate of galaxies, stars, planets and life; and the nature of the fundamental laws of the Universe, going beyond Einstein into the biggest unsolved problems like dark energy and quantum gravity."

The UK space industry has been a rare high technology success story in recent years. According to a report in November by the Oxford Economics consultancy, it has grown by 10 per cent annually since 2007, to £7.5bn, and provided 15 per cent more jobs each year.

Local MP Andrew George today called for the government to also back the Goonhilly project.

"There is still much more work to be done to bring this project online," he said.

"Government support will be crucial. It already has the backing of the private sector."

Under the deal, BT will retain a small research, development and satellite operations presence at Goonhilly. Located on the Lizard peninsula, the most southerly point of mainland Britain, it is also a landing site for undersea fibre optic cables. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.