SO:UK Phase A

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The Simons Observatory (SO, is a new Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) experiment to be located on Cerro Toco in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. It is an international project, led by the US, and with significant participation already from the UK, Japan, Canada, Chile, France, Italy, Sweden, South Africa, Australia and Israel. The project is currently funded primarily in the US at the level of ~$93M by the Simons Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the primary US institutions. A collaboration of UK CMB scientists have proposed to STFC that it should fund a major UK role in the SO project (refereed to as "SO:UK"). This initial phase of the SO:UK project is aimed at producing a detailed project plan for the proposed UK contribution and on demonstrating some of the key technologies that have been proposed for the SO:UK instruments.

Planned Impact

We expect the technical development work to be conducted during SO:UK Phase A to lead to significant industrial and economic impact. In particular, the SO:UK project includes the development of ultra-low noise quantum detectors for astronomy, which will have considerable benefits for UK innovation and technology, both within the astronomy community and further afield (e.g. the space industry and industrial/security monitoring). Similarly, the readout solution that the project is considering makes use of advanced digital signal processing techniques that have potential crossover applications in the fields of advanced wireless communications and 5G mobile networks. We will work with QMC Instruments and University of Manchester Intellectual Property (UMIP, to seek out such commercialisation opportunities arising from this research.


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