Bangkok, the Thai capital, flooded in 2011. From Gale and Saunders (2013): The 2011 Thailand floods - causes and rainfall return periods.
Bangkok, the Thai capital, flooded in 2011. From Gale and Saunders (2013): The 2011 Thailand floods - causes and rainfall return periods.


UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics, (Mullard Space Science Laboratory - MSSL), is a world-leading research organisation and is the UK's largest university-based space research group.

MSSL delivers a broad, cutting-edge science programme, underpinned by a strong capability in space science instrumentation, space-domain engineering, space medicine, systems engineering and project management. 

Our scientific research ranges from cosmology and the study of extra-galactic objects, to studies of the Sun, the planets and their moons, the Earth, and humans working and living in space. We also research and develop the next generation of space instrumentation. Our research is supported through UK research councils, the UK Space Agency, European and other grants and contracts.

Student graduation at UCL's campus
Student graduation at UCL's campus


As a department of UCL, members of staff are actively involved in teaching both undergraduates and post-graduates. Our post-graduate education programme consists of taught courses, leading to an M.Sc., and research degrees, leading to an M.Phil or Ph.D.

Students studying at MSSL become active members of their research groups and wider research communities. Research projects in our taught courses give students the opportunity to be involved in the development of new space hardware and future missions. 

The research undertaken at MSSL drives an active outreach programme. Scientists and engineers are happy to talk about their work and run activities for groups of all ages and interests.

Artist's impression of the ExoMars rover. Image: ESA
Artist's impression of the ExoMars rover. Image: ESA


MSSL has a long heritage of providing high-quality space instrumentation for international space research missions. In our >40 year history we have been involved in more than 35 scientific space missions and over 200 rocket launches.

MSSL develops and tests hardware and software, usually as part of an international consortium. Our engineers work along side scientists to ensure that the instruments we produce optimally address key questions in modern space science. Post-launch support that is linked to pre-flight and flight calibrations enables scientists to understand the responses of the instrument, greatly benefitting the analysis of the data.

Engineers and project support staff make up around half the staff and students at MSSL.

UV inspection for contamination on flight hardware
UV inspection for contamination on flight hardware


As a builder of scientific instruments, MSSL has developed expertise and facilities for manufacturing and testing of space hardware. We make these facilities and expertise available for industrial contracts. 

Through UCL Centre for Systems Engineering (UCLse), we offer a range of industrial training courses in areas including systems engineering, project management, risk management and system design, and conduct consultancy projects for industry in systems engineering and technology management.

Mullard Space Science Laboratory in the snow
Mullard Space Science Laboratory in the snow


UCL was one of the first universities in the world to become involved in making scientific observations in space. Since MSSL was established in 1966, we have participated in more than 35 satellite missions and over 200 rocket experiments.

Our groups of research scientists and development engineers work together to ensure that the instruments we produce are as relevant and competitive as possible. The subsequent data analysis and scientific interpretation of data benefits from the fundamental understanding of the instruments gained from their development and testing.

MSSL and its location have a rich heritage that can be explored further on this site.

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Comet McNaught over the Pacific Ocean. Image taken from Paranal Observatory in January 2007.Credits: ESO/Sebastian Deiries

Comet tails: charged dust blowing in the solar wind

How a comet’s dust tail forms bands stretching millions of kilometres across the sky has been observed for the first time by UCL scientists. The study, published today in Icarus, reveals the charged nature of the dust particles and the important role of the Sun in forming the characteristic patterns.  More...

Published: Nov 6, 2018 9:33:36 AM

Congratulations to our new professors!

Congratulations to Sarah Matthews, Geraint Jones and Daisuke Kawata who have all been promoted to professor in this year’s round of senior academic promotions. All have been long-standing academics at MSSL, taking leading roles in our involvement in various missions and projects including the European Solar Telescope, Gaia and Plato. Prof. Matthews is leading the MSSL Equality and Diversity Initiative, including our Juno supporter award. Prof. Jones is an STFC Outreach Fellow, developing the new MSSL podcast ‘Thinking Space’ and the Astrojots project. Prof. Kawata is MSSL’s graduate tutor, supporting our PhD students. More...

Published: Oct 16, 2018 10:18:41 AM

2018 Intake of PhD students at MSSL

Welcome to our 2018 PhD students

MSSL welcomes our new PhD students who joined us at the end of September. Our new students are funded by UCL, STFC, ESA, the Royal Society, industry and through international funding and will be working in the research groups across the lab. We wish them well in their studies and time here. More...

Published: Oct 16, 2018 10:18:17 AM

Space weather research to space weather forecasting

MSSL research has long focussed on the science behind space weather - a research area that helps us understand how emissions from the Sun impact the technology that modern society relies on. The department also has an engineering programme to supply the instrumentation needed for this research. To disseminate knowledge about the physical drivers of space weather, the department offers training courses. Recently, space weather forecasters at the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre have been recipients of a specially designed programme. This course has been highlighted by UCL Consultants as a case study of UCL working with industry. More...

Published: Aug 31, 2018 9:45:14 AM

PhD student Lloyd Woodham receiving his Outstanding Poster Contribution award at the SHINE meeting in Florida

MSSL Space Plasma student wins poster award at SHINE meeting

Lloyd Woodham from the Space Plasma Physics Group was one of five award winners at the Solar, Heliospheric & Interplanetary Environment (SHINE) Conference for his outstanding poster contribution. The SHINE meeting, held in Cocoa Beach, Florida, focussed on the upcoming science goals and questions that may be answered from the Parker Solar Probe mission launched just a few days ago. More...

Published: Aug 14, 2018 4:29:01 PM

institute of Physics Project Juno Support
institute of Physics Project Juno Support
institute of Physics Project Juno Support

Page last modified on 20 feb 18 11:26