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 Gaia. Image: ESA
Artist's impression of Gaia. 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.

MSSL thermal vacuum and optical test chamber
MSSL thermal vacuum and optical test chamber


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 with Comet Hale-Bopp
Mullard Space Science Laboratory with Comet Hale-Bopp


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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MSSL Awards 2015

On Monday 23rd November, staff and students gathered to recognise outstanding people at MSSL in the annual MSSL awards. The awards, presented in memory of former colleagues, are a recognition of excellence in our science, engineering and outreach programmes. More...

Published: Nov 25, 2015 2:53:07 PM

Cover art for Laboratorio, published by Sidekick Books

Laboratorio - Poems from MSSL

Last week saw the launch at an event at Greenwhich Observatory of 'Laboratorio', a collection of poems by MSSL staff and students, edited by award-winning poet Simon Barraclough. It was the culmination of a project funded by the STFC for Simon to spend a year as 'poet in residence' at MSSL. More...

Published: Nov 25, 2015 1:58:51 PM

How did Mars lose its habitable climate? The answer is blowing in the solar wind

Professor Andrew Coates (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory) explains how the solar wind has stripped Mars of its atmosphere, making it a lot less habitable than it once was. Read: The ConversationMore: Discover Magazine More...

Published: Nov 6, 2015 2:27:19 PM

Tutor in Technology Management

The successful applicant will contribute significantly to the teaching and training activities of the Technology Management Group at MSSL, dedicating most of their time to academic Masters-level teaching at UCL’s main campus in London, and to industrial training at various locations in the UK and overseas. The successful applicant may also have the opportunity to conduct project management or systems engineering for one or more instrumentation development projects at MSSL. The post will be based at Holmbury St Mary (Surrey) or central London, to suit the applicant’s circumstances (although travel to both sites will be necessary).  More...

Published: Nov 2, 2015 2:48:19 PM

Staff Survey 2015 logo

UCL Staff Engagement Survey 2015

UCL is launching the 2015 Staff Engagement Survey on 9 November. Participating in the staff survey helps the Senior Management Team (SMT) to understand your experience of work and the working environment and how this impacts on achieving UCL’s goals. More...

Published: Oct 15, 2015 10:38:59 AM

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