The Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN) is an interferometer array of radio telescopes spread across England. The array is run from Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire by the University of Manchester on behalf of STFC as a National Facility.
The array consists of up to seven radio telescopes and includes the Lovell Telescope, Mark II, Cambridge, Defford, Knockin, Darnhall and Pickmere (previously known as Tabley). The longest baseline is therefore 217 km and MERLIN can operate at frequencies between 151 MHz and 24 GHz. At a wavelength of 6 cm (5 GHz frequency), MERLIN has a resolution of 40 milliarcseconds which is comparable to that of the HST at optical wavelengths. From 1990 MERLIN's most distant outpost, at Cambridge, has a new purpose-built telescope with a bowl 32 metres in diameter.
In 1957, the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO) was built 8 kilometres south-west of Cambridge, at Lord's Bridge, through the generosity of Mullard Limited. The work of the MRAO was recognised by the award of the 1974 Nobel Prize for Physics to Professor Ryle and to Professor Antony Hewish - the first time that a Nobel Prize had been awarded for astronomical research.