Artist's impression of Earth's magnetosphere showing different plasma regimes. (c) UCL 2011
Artist's impression of Earth's magnetosphere showing different plasma regimes. (c) UCL 2011


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.

Lecture theatre at UCL
Lecture theatre at UCL


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.

One of the twin materials screening chambers at MSSL
One of the twin materials screening chambers at MSSL


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.


Research Scientist in Auroral Space Plasma Physics

We are seeking a scientifically productive post-doctoral scientist to undertake research in the areas of space plasma physics and the dynamics of the terrestrial magnetosphere, with particular emphasis on auroral physics.  This project is expected to utilise data from the Cluster mission as well as ancillary measurements.  Due to recent orbital changes, the Cluster mission has traversed the auroral acceleration region for extended periods of time, enabling aspects of the spatial and temporal characteristics of auroral acceleration to be determined using multipoint measurements for the first time. The applicant will be expected to participate in wider group scientific activities including preparations for future space plasma research missions. The post is available immediately, initially for a period of 1 year, with a possible 3 year extension subject to funding availability. More...

Published: Mar 20, 2015 4:30:00 PM

Research Associate (Swift UV/Optical Telescope Instrument Scientist)

Applications are invited for the post of instrument scientist for the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) on the NASA Swift, gamma-ray burst observatory. The Swift satellite was launched successfully in November 2004 and is a collaborative effort between the USA, UK and Italy. MSSL is a core member of the hardware team and was responsible for building the Ultraviolet and Optical Telescope. The post holder will provide operations support to the mission by analysing data from the Ultraviolet and Optical Telescope (UVOT) on Gamma-ray bursts, take responsibility for specific Gamma-ray burst events (burst advocate), assist with the calibration and monitoring of the UVOT, and carry out original research using Swift data. The role will require close collaboration with the instrument team and wider science teams involved in the Swift project, as well as the other members of the Astrophysics Group at MSSL/UCL.  A PhD in astronomy, space science or instrumentation is essential.  Expertise and scholarship in a field of astrophysics research related to Swift is also required.  More...

Published: Mar 20, 2015 4:26:00 PM

Left to Right: Philip Diamond, IOP’s Associate Director Programmes, Performance and Policy, Jason Hunt, Physics Bronze Winner, James Perham-Marchant, Director, Government and Academic Affairs, EMEA at John Wiley and Sons, Dr Stephen Benn, Society of Biology, Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee Credit: © John Deehan

UCL researcher strikes Bronze for physics display in Parliament

Jason Hunt (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory) has struck Bronze at a competition in the House of Commons, for the excellence of his physics research, walking away with a £1000 prize. More...

Published: Mar 12, 2015 8:54:32 AM

Euclid Visible Instrument Scientist

Applications are invited for the post of Instrument Scientist for the visible instrument (VIS) on Euclid, ESA’s Dark Energy mission, in which the Mullard Space Science Laboratory has a leading involvement. The successful applicant will provide scientific expertise, carry out performance modelling and develop calibration strategies. The role will require close collaboration with the instrument team and wider science teams involved in the Euclid project, as well as the other members of the Astrophysics Group at MSSL/UCL. The applicant will also be encouraged to pursue a programme of research in either gravitational lensing science or in galaxy formation and evolution. The post is initially for 2 years with the likelihood of further continuation. More...

Published: Mar 12, 2015 8:46:00 AM

UCL-MSSL student Edward Malina

UCL scientist takes his research to Parliament

Edward Malina, 26, a PhD Research Student at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL), hailing from Watford, is attending Parliament to present his physics research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of SET for Britain on Monday 9 March. More...

Published: Feb 25, 2015 5:43:53 PM

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