ESA establishes first UK research centre

From the Guardian:

The European Space Agency has opened its first research centre in the UK in a move designed to bring more British scientists and engineers into contact with the space industry. The agency has earmarked £1.3m for the facility’s first year of operation.

Work at the centre, which is based in a former computing lab built in the 1960s at Harwell science park in Oxfordshire, will focus on climate change science and robotic missions. Other plans include a “planetary protection facility” that will develop procedures to ensure missions to other planets do not contaminate them with terrestrial chemicals or bugs.

The centre will also operate as a storage facility for moon rock, meteorites and other material brought back from space that needs to be kept under clean-room conditions to protect it from the environment.