UK lead role in Mars mission
Chancellor George Osborne has announced the UK will play the "lead role" in Europe's ExoMars mission to the Red Planet. He also confirmed a £235m materials science institute for Manchester. Mr Osborne loosely outlined how his previous commitment of £1.1bn per year on science infrastructure, to 2020-21, will be spent.
These measures join a £200m icebreaker research ship announced in April, and a the Met Office's £97m supercomputer. Although they do not represent "new money" for science outside of previous commitments, the announcements come amid belt-tightening across government spending: Mr Osborne said there would be two more years of cuts to departmental budgets.
The new facility for materials research at Manchester University will be called the Sir Henry Royce Institute, and will have satellite branches in Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Cambridge, Oxford and London. The Autumn Statement also includes £113m for a big data research centre in Hartree, Daresbury.
The government's commitment to the ExoMars programme amounts to £55m, alongside a similar amount for the International Space Station (ISS). This more than triples the sum offered as a "one-off" payment to the ISS two years ago. Both amounts were promised at a European Space Agency (Esa) ministerial meeting on Tuesday, by representatives of the UK Space Agency.