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Prof Richard Davis - research

Research interests

The Scale of the Planck Project at JBCA  Manchester.


Planck is to be launched in 2008 and go to L2 (the second Lagrangian point)  some 1 million miles from the Earth.  It is to map the CMB sky with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution with 9 frequency channels.  Our practical realization of the design for the radiometer here in Manchester has now been adopted as the baseline design for all the radiometers which were built at JBO Manchester, and Millilabs Helsinki, a tribute to our engineers at JBO under my leadership.


Planck is going to be the most important experiment in Cosmology and the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) for the next decade. Its main observational objective is:  to image the temperature and anisotropies and polarisation of the CMB, over the whole sky, with an uncertainty on the temperature limited by “natural causes” (foreground fluctuations, cosmic variance) rather than intrinsic or systematic detector noise and an angular resolution ~5arc minutes. 


It is important to relate to the scale and our involvement in the Planck project. The total money committed so far to this Herschel Planck Project is some Two Billion EU. This is the same scale as the Square Kilometer Array. Through my leadership as UK PI to the LFI (Low Frequency Instrument) receivers, we, and therefore JBCA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester, have been responsible for the design, construction and delivery of the lowest noise receivers, for 10mm and 7mm wavelengths, ever built. They are on the spacecraft and working to specification or better. To achieve this, I led the Radiometer design as Chair of the Radiometer Working Group and worked on a daily basis with our remarkable team of talented engineers and technicians at JBO. As PI, I was also responsible for winning the £2.1M grant from STFC (PPARC) for their design, development and build. I was supported strongly by N. Roddis as our senior RF engineer and A. Wilkinson as Project manager. I asked R.D. Davies to accompany us for support but in the end he was not required to speak. He has been enormously helpful to the project by his scientific support. F Winder was employed as our RF engineer and he designed the final amplifiers with support from M. Pospieszalski from NRAO. 


This is only the start of the work for this project. Of course, we, The University, will get its praise for this technical work. We have worked tirelessly to keep us involved with the spacecraft and the Project, both now and during flight. We have at JBCA a team of 10 people, 4 academics and 2 PDRAs and 4 Phd students involved in 6 core team areas of work for the project. I have played a large part in bringing this team together. Since we were more involved with the

Research Groups