A solar flare occurring near the edge of a sunspot. From: Li et al., Astron. & Astrophys., 2009
A solar flare occurring near the edge of a sunspot. From: Li et al., Astron. & Astrophys., 2009


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.

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Super-resolution restoration technique in image (a) lander, parachute candidate and rear cover candidate arrowed, and zoomed-in view of the lander (b) and parachute target (c). Image credit: MSSL/UCL/HiRISE/NASA

Revolutionary techniques developed by MSSL Imaging scientists show the location of the Beagle 2 Lander on the surface of Mars in the finest detail ever

In a paper published this week in the peer review journal from the Royal Society Open Science are details of the image stacking and matching techniques developed by the MSSL imaging group, including Prof. Jan-Peter Muller with PhD student Yu Tao, and work on measuring the reflectances of different surface objects by PhD students Si-Ting Xiong and Kiky Putri. More...

Published: Oct 12, 2017 4:58:46 PM

Andrew Fazakerley

Prof. Andrew Fazakerley is the new director of MSSL

Professor Andrew Fazakerley has recently been appointed as Head of the Department of Space and Climate Physics, also known as UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL).

Andrew has been at MSSL for more than 20 years. His scientific background is in the area of space plasma physics, but he has also been involved in space mission preparation and operation for much of this time.

“I am looking forward to my new role at MSSL, which is the UK’s largest university space science laboratory. I will be helping our unique team to continue to achieve excellence in scientific research, space instrumentation and teaching, and to explore new opportunities in all those areas. We have current roles in many orbiting missions, including the recently launched UCLsat. Only a few weeks ago, we said farewell to our instrument on the Cassini mission at Saturn." More...

Published: Oct 4, 2017 5:06:51 PM

Prof. Lucie Green interviewed on R4 The Life Scientific

MSSL's Prof. Lucie Green was interviewed by Jim Al-Khalili on BBC Radio 4's The Life Scientific. Lucie talked about her first love, art, and how she came to be a solar physicist studying events that can potentially impact life and technology on Earth. More...

Published: Oct 4, 2017 5:03:46 PM

Class of 2017

Class of 2017 DRILL into a new mission

In the culmination of a year’s hard work, the students of the MSc Space Science and Engineering programme have applied everything they have learnt to put together a new mission proposal that would meet the cost cap of an ESA M-class mission. During the final 6 weeks of the course, the students worked together in a Group Project to respond to an announcement of opportunity to propose a lunar sample return mission. A 60,000 word proposal later, they successfully presented 'DRILL: a lunar sample return mission to the far side of the moon' to a panel of experts from SSTL, the University of Manchester, STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Lab and QMUL. More...

Published: Sep 7, 2017 8:39:54 PM

Electronics Assembly Technician

Applications are invited for the post of Flight Electronic Assembly Technician at MSSL to support the Laboratory’s space science instrumentation programme. More...

Published: Aug 19, 2017 8:26:57 AM

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Page last modified on 08 sep 11 16:33