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.

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 Solar Orbiter. Image: ESA
Artist's impression of Solar Orbiter. 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.

The MSSL ISO Class 8 clean room
The MSSL ISO Class 8 clean room


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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UCLSat in the test chamber at MSSL. Credit: UCL/MSSL

UCL’s first satellite ‘UCLSat’ launched

UCLSat, a satellite designed and built by UCL engineers and scientists, has been launched today from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India as part of an international mission called QB50. More...

Published: Jun 23, 2017 8:52:15 AM

Credit: DLR

PLATO adopted as ESA M-Class mission

We are excited to announce that the PLATO exoplanet mission has been
formally adopted by the European Space Agency as their 3rd Medium Class mission at a meeting of its Science Planning Committee on the 19th June 2017. The PLATO mission is due for launch in 2026 and will operate for a minimum of four years during which it will observer planetary transits and stellar oscillations. By this means it will characterised a very large number of planetary systems and, together with ground-based follow-up observations, will determine the radius of the planets and the mass and age of the central star. The spacecraft will comprise 24 'Normal' cameras and two 'Fast' cameras with the sensors being supplied from the UK by Teledyne in Chemlsford. MSSL has the responsibility for the development and production of the front-end electronics for the 'Normal' cameras and the final characterization of the optical sensors. The project is funded within the UK by the UK Space Agency. More...

Published: Jun 21, 2017 8:47:43 AM


UK Gaia Teams win two Sir Arthur Clarke Awards

UK Gaia Science Team, including six members from the UCL Mullard Science Space Laboratory, have won an Arthur Clarke Award.

Published: Jun 8, 2017 9:04:26 AM

UK Gaia Teams win two Arthur C Clarke Awards

Last night (31 May 2017), the Gaia project picked up two ‘Arthurs’ at the annual UK Space Conference Gala Dinner held at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester. The Sir Arthur Clarke Awards (the ‘Arthurs’) have been presented since 2005 and recognise significant contributions to space activities. More...

Published: Jun 2, 2017 5:12:59 PM

Legend: Artistic view of a solar eruption and of the embedded twisted magnetic field structure that carries away the ejected material.

Magnetic helicity: key to unlocking the solar flare prediction problem?

Dr. Gherardo Valori (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory) recently developed a new method to measure magnetic helicity that is now applied to the testing of new diagnostic tools for the forecast of solar eruptions. More...

Published: May 30, 2017 1:26:52 PM

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