Water and dust plumes emanating from the "tiger stripes" on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Adapted from Coates (2012). Courtesy: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Water and dust plumes emanating from the "tiger stripes" on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Adapted from Coates (2012). Courtesy: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


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.

UCL Dept. Space & Climate Physics - Mullard Space Science Laboratory
UCL Dept. Space & Climate Physics - Mullard Space Science Laboratory


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 Associate for Euclid Weak Lensing Science

We are seeking an experienced postdoctoral researcher in cosmology to make key contributions to the Euclid weak lensing science programme. Euclid is a paradigm-changing ESA satellite mission. It will survey 75% of the extra-galactic sky in optical and near infra-red bands, resulting in resolved observations of 1.5 billion galaxies for weak lensing measurements. This will enable the expansion history and growth of structure to be mapped to unprecedented accuracy allowing definitive statements on the nature of dark energy to be made, and to test Einstein gravity on cosmic scales.  More...

Published: Jul 4, 2014 1:34:28 PM

Tom Pollard's winning post from UCL’s Festival for Digital Health (small)

Tom Pollard wins Best Doctoral Poster at UCL Festival for Digital Health

Tom Pollard, who works on an interdisciplinary project between the Mullard Space Science Laboratory and University College Hospital, won the prize for ‘Best Doctoral Poster' at the UCL’s Festival for Digital Health (http://www.fdh.ucl.ac.uk/). The Festival seeks to connect researchers across disciplines and features two weeks of events highlighting UCL’s world-class research in computer science, engineering, medicine and health service delivery.   More...

Published: Jul 1, 2014 9:48:31 AM

Image of the galaxy NGC 5548 taken at the MDM Observatory 1.3m telescope (Courtesy of Dr Misty Bentz)

Fast-flowing gas curtails galaxy’s glow

The bright core of a spiral galaxy has unexpectedly dimmed, according to a new study by an international team of astronomers including Graziella Branduardi-Raymont and Megan Whewell of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory.  More...

Published: Jun 23, 2014 9:19:24 AM

Model of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Credit: LSST Consortium

All the Sky – All the Time: UK astronomers debate involvement in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)

Astronomers gathered in Portsmouth for the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting have today been excitedly discussing the possibility of widespread UK involvement in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope project.  UCL MSSL joined LSST earlier this year through an institutional memorandum of agreement.  The LSST will be sited at Cerro Pachón in the Chilean Andes and will have a primary mirror 8.4 metres in diameter, making it one of the largest single telescopes in the world, as well as the world’s largest digital camera, comprising 3.2 billion pixels.   It will achieve first light in 2020 and its main sky survey will begin in 2022.   More...

Published: Jun 23, 2014 9:00:00 AM

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

ExoMars Landing Sites Narrowed Down - And PanCam Appears on BBC News

The first landing site selection workshop for the Esa-Roscosmos ExoMars rover was held on 26-28 March at ESAC near Madrid. Prof Andrew Coates of the Planetary Science Group attended the meeting, as Principal Investigator of the PanCam instrument on the rover. MSSL leads the international PanCam team which includes hardware from Germany and Switzerland, with important contributions from Austria, as well as the UK. PanCam includes a pair of wide angle cameras (WACs) for stereo imaging and a High Resolution Camera (HRC) for zoom capability. PanCam provides geological and atmospheric context for the mission. More...

Published: Apr 7, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Upcoming Events

National Astronomy Meeting, 2014

Starts: Jun 23, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Physics of Neutron Stars - 2014

This will be the 10th gathering on neutron star physics in Saint Petersburg (after those in 1988, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2011). In 2014 the conference will commemorate the 100th birthday of Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich (1914—1987), the famous Soviet physicist and astrophysicist. More...

Starts: Jul 28, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Page last modified on 08 sep 11 16:33