Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Osborne: UK lead role in Mars mission

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne has announced the UK will play the 'lead role' in Europe's ExoMars mission to the red planet.

He also confirmed a £250m material science institute for Manchester.

Mr Osborne loosely outlined the spending of some of his previous commitment of £1.1bn per year on science infrastructure, to 2020-21.

These measures join a £200m icebreaker research ship announced in April, and a the Met Office's £97m supercomputer.

Although they do not represent 'new money' for science outside of previous commitments, the announcements come amid belt-tightening across government spending: Mr Osborne said there would be two more years of cuts to departmental budgets.

The BBC understands that the commitment to the ExoMars programme amounts to around £50m, alongside a similar amount for the International Space Station.