The following note was issued by the Director JAC on 5-Apr-2009.
It is my great pleasure to announce that the Statement of Interest (SoI) submitted by Dr Hugh Jones (Herts) for a new UKIRT instrument, called UKIRT Planet Finder (UPF), was endorsed by the relevant STFC committee (PPAN). This endorsement is a very significant step forward and is testament to the compelling science case for the new instrument. Searching for Earth-mass planets around other stars is one of the top priorities in all of astronomy, and UKIRT is the ideal telescope at which to carry out that search.
The next step is to put together a full proposal, which will go to another STFC committee called PPRP (Projects Peer Review Panel). PPRP’s next meeting is in June and the deadline for submission of the proposal is 6th May. The proposal is being led by Dr Jones, with support from the UKATC (who will be the prime contractor) and, of course, the JAC.
The approval process is likely to take several months, so a final verdict is not expected until late 2009. Nevertheless it is gratifying that we have cleared the first hurdle. My thanks to those of you who provided letters of support for the SoI – I am sure that this was an important factor in its endorsement.
Professor Gary Davis,