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.

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.

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.

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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Chef Assistant

We are looking for some temporary assistance in the MSSL kitchen on an as and when basis. More...

Published: Oct 10, 2016 10:31:19 AM

Mechanical Design Engineer

Applications are invited for the post of Mechanical Design Engineer in the mechanical and thermal engineering group at MSSL to support the Laboratory’s space science instrumentation programme. More...

Published: Oct 5, 2016 4:34:41 PM

Artist’s impression of Gaia spacecraft, with the Milky Way in the background (Credit: ESA/ATG MEDIALAB; background image: ESO/S. Brunier)

Gaia sizes up 1.1 billion stars

Gaia, a European Space Agency satellite designed to unlock the secrets of the birth and evolution of the Milky Way, has released its first wave of data on the positions and brightness for about one billion stars. 

Published: Sep 16, 2016 4:37:01 PM

Report on Space Weather impacts to finance published

UCL researchers have been applying their knowledge of “space weather” to help the the finance sector build their resilience to this natural phenomenon. Space weather refers to changes in the near-Earth space that are caused by the Sun. Huge explosions and eruptions in the Sun’s atmosphere reach out and cause changes in the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, and this ultimately has knock-on effects to much of our modern technology, for example electricity distribution, satellite services and communications. A new report led by UCL lays out guidance on how to factor space weather risks into business resiliency planning for the finance sector, and discusses how businesses might be impacted. More...

Published: Sep 7, 2016 9:18:43 AM

From left-to-right: Duncan Rust, Alan Smith, Dhiren Kataria and Robert Wicks. Dhiren is holding the first QB50 INMS

MSSL Deliver First QB50 INMS

Dhiren Kataria (centre-right) sets off to deliver the first of 12 Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometers (INMS) to the QB50 project. INMS is the latest in a long line of space particle detectors designed, built and tested by MSSL and follows the successful operation of a similar instrument on the UK's TechDemoSat-1 launched in 2014. More...

Published: Aug 17, 2016 2:33:31 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