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.

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.

Engineering model of the Solar Orbiter SWA-EAS at ESTEC for EMC testing
Engineering model of the Solar Orbiter SWA-EAS at ESTEC for EMC testing


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.

UV inspection for contamination on flight hardware
UV inspection for contamination on flight hardware


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.

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Electronics Design Engineer

The focus of this particular post is the development of the PanCam instrument for the ESA Exomars programme. Exomars is a joint European and Russian mission to develop special technology for future sample return missions and to search for signs of past or present life. PanCam is a Rover based stereo camera system designed to operate in the harsh Martian environment. This instrument consists of a power converter, camera systems, filter wheel mechanisms and a field programmable gate array based digital control system. Communications with the Rover are over a Spacewire high speed digital link. LabView from National Instruments is widely used in our ground check-out systems and we use EDA design tools from Mentor Graphics. More...

Published: Jul 26, 2016 4:12:00 PM

Prof Ivan Parkin

New Dean of Mathematical & Physical Sciences appointed

The faculty is delighted to announce the appointment of Prof Ivan Parkin as the new Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. The appointment will be effective as of next academic year (2016-17). More...

Published: Jul 20, 2016 12:04:15 PM

Einstein's general relativity passes another stringent test

Einstein's general relativity passes another stringent test

In a recent paper published today in the Astrophysical Journal, Ignacio Ferreras (UCL Space & Climate Physics/Mullard Space Science Laboratory) and Ignacio Trujillo (IAC) presented the most detailed test of the so-called cosmological redshift.

Published: Jul 11, 2016 2:35:05 PM

Magnetic Rope observed for the first time during the interaction between Saturn and the Sun

Magnetic Rope observed for the first time between Saturn and the Sun

A twisted magnetic field structure, previously never seen before at Saturn, has now been detected for the first time, using instrumentation built at UCL and Imperial  College.

When the Sun’s magnetic field interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field (the  magnetosphere), a complex process occurs called magnetic reconnection which can twist the field into a helical shape.


Published: Jul 6, 2016 8:58:32 AM

This is an artist's concept of the electric wind at Venus. Rays represent the paths that oxygen and hydrogen ions take as they are pulled out of the upper atmosphere. Credits: NASA/Goddard/Conceptual Image Lab, Krystofer Kim

Strong ‘electric wind’ strips planets of oceans and atmospheres

Venus has an ‘electric wind’ strong enough to remove the components of water from its upper atmosphere, which may have played a significant role in stripping the planet of its oceans, according to a new study by NASA and UCL researchers.  More...

Published: Jun 20, 2016 5:46:53 PM

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Upcoming Events

Laboratory Literature

In preparation for the setting up of MSSL at Holmbury House in 1965, its first director, Sir Robert Boyd, had to promise the local planning committee he would not launch any rockets from the MSSL grounds. However, the promise did not include book launches! So MSSL is having a laboratory literature evening to celebrate the Sun and space through writing. MSSL staff and poet-in-residence Simon Barraclough have recently launched poetry books and a popular science book and you can find out about these books during the evening. More...

Starts: Jun 16, 2016 6:30:00 PM

Page last modified on 08 sep 11 16:33