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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Visit to Royal Observatory


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining MSP colleagues from the Cross-Party Group on Space for a visit to the UK Astronomy Technology Centre based at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.


The site is a national centre of excellence for the development of scientific instrumentation and facilities for ground and space-based astronomy.


MSPs learned how the business incubation facilities at the Higgs Centre for Innovation have helped start-up businesses in sectors like artificial intelligence, robotics, Earth observation and “get off the ground.”


We were also able to see the work underway for the European Space Agency’s LISA (the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) mission.


LISA will be the first gravitational wave observatory in space and the centre, in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, is leading the UK's hardware contribution to LISA.


MSPs also had a chance to see and meet the team behind MOONS (the Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph) which is a next generation, world leading astronomy instrument designed for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.


Another highlight was the library, with 15,000 rare and original books on astronomy, dating back centuries. The death mask is that of Sir Isaac Newton.


Sectors like space, robotics and AI are critical for Ayrshire and Scotland’s economic future, offering opportunities for job creation and global competitiveness.


Investing in science and supporting relevant start-ups in these fields fosters innovation and makes sure Scotland is positioned at the forefront of these emerging industries.


My thanks to Dr Julian Dines for helping to organise the visit.

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Kenneth Gibson SNP

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