The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of seven research councils in the UK. The research councils form part of UK government and report to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). STFC runs major science programmes using its own research capability and acts in support of the major UK physical science facilities, as a result of which it is able to offer access to world-class science expertise and facilities to UK industry and to other government agency customers. The major STFC sites are: Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire (which includes RAL Space, Section 3.34 above); Daresbury Laboratory, Cheshire; Chilbolton Observatory, Hampshire; and UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh.
The UK Astronomy Technology Centre, referred to hereinafter as UK ATC, is the national centre for astronomical technology. The Centre’s principal activities are the design, build and verification of remote sensing instrumentation, from UV to THz, with a particular emphasis on IR. The primary target market is astronomy, with customers from the world's major telescopes - both ground and space-based. This also enables its scientists to carry out observational and theoretical research into fundamental questions such as the origins of planets and of galaxies. However, the UK ATC is increasingly becoming involved with Earth Observation space instrumentation and missions especially those based on small satellites and CubeSats.
The UK ATC already has excellent facilities for development and test of space instrumentation as evidenced by a number of advanced technology space programmes it has worked on including MIRI and SPIRE; and these facilities will be considerably enhanced by those planned for the Higgs Centre, especially the Nano-Sat test facilities, which are still being finalised, and will continue to be added to after opening. The UK ATC welcomes working with external organisations under suitable commercial arrangements.