MSSL News

Titan’s atmosphere even more Earth-like than previously thought

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Cassini at Saturn

Scientists at UCL have observed how a widespread polar wind is driving gas from the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan.

ESA shortlists three space missions with major UCL contributions

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Mission themes

The European Space Agency has announced the shortlisted proposals for its next mid-sized science mission.

All three proposed spacecraft have significant contributions from UCL, which means the university will be guaranteed a role regardless of which is chosen. The candidates are in the areas of exoplanet science, plasma physics and X-ray observations of high-energy phenomena, with teams including academics at UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory and UCL Physics & Astronomy.

Technician in Flight Test Facilities Group

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Applications are invited for a position in the Flight Test Facilities Group at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London. The group is currently involved in testing hardware for a number of ESA space missions, including Exomars, Solar Orbiter, Euclid and Plato. The successful applicant will provide support to these space flight hardware test campaigns, as well as being responsible for the maintenance and day-to-day running of MSSL’s flight test facilities and cleanrooms. The successful applicant should hold an HNC/HND in engineering or equivalent and have experience of working in a laboratory environment. The post is for 2 years in the first instance, continuation subject to grant funding. The salary is on UCL Salary Grade 6, ranging from £24,057 - £28,695 per annum depending on experience.

ESA Announces M4 Down-selection

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ESA has announced the three missions that will undergo Phase A studies for the fourth M-class mission in the Cosmic Visions science programme. These are the Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (Ariel), the Turbulence Heating ObserveR (Thor) and the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer (Xipe). MSSL scientists and engineers will be involved in the studies for all three missions.

SMILE space mission passes first hurdle

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Solar-terrestrial interactions. From left to right: Solar Dynamics Observatory image of the Sun (Credit: NASA); Earth’s magnetosphere (Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration); SMILE soft X-ray imager simulation of  emission from the magnetosheath and the cusps (the large box represents the soft X-ray imager field of view and the smaller one that of the auroral UV imager); FUV aurora from IMAGE (Credit: SMILE mission)

A space mission called SMILE (Solar Wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer) which is jointly led by UCL and the Chinese National Space Science Center has received the go-ahead for an initial study phase this summer by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Understanding space weather's threat to the finance industry

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Canary Wharf

The risk that space weather poses to our daily lives has become more prominent in recent years.

Awareness has been enhanced by dramatic solar activity that regularly features in the media and by the inclusion of space weather in the National Risk Register. Attention is now turning to the risks posed to specific sectors and on 27 May UCL held a symposium to examine space weather risk and resilience in the financial sector.

Magnetar near supermassive black hole delivers surprises

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Magnetar

In 2013, astronomers announced they had discovered a magnetar exceptionally close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way using a suite of space-borne telescopes including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Dark matter even darker than once thought

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Collage of galaxy clusters

Astronomers using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide.

UCL researcher strikes Bronze for physics display in Parliament

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SET for Britain

Jason Hunt (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory) has struck Bronze at a competition in the House of Commons, for the excellence of his physics research, walking away with a £1000 prize.

UCL scientist takes his research to Parliament

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UCL-MSSL student Edward Malina

SET for Britain Press Release

Edward Malina, 26, a PhD Research Student at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL), hailing from Watford, is attending Parliament to present his physics research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of SET for Britain on Monday 9 March.

Highlights from the 2015 Planck Cosmology Data Release

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Artist’s rendering of the Planck satellite with view inside the telescope shields. The focal plane unit is visible as the golden collection of waveguide horns at the focus of the telescope positioned inside the thermal shields (external envelope) which protect the telescope from unwanted stray light and aids the cooling of the telescope mirrors by having a black emitting surface on the outside and a reflective one on the inside. For reference, the Earth and Sun would be located far towards the bottom left of this picture. (Credit: ESA/Planck)

New maps from ESA's Planck satellite, forming the second major data release (Feb 2015) from the project, have unveiled the 'polarised' light from the early Universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought.

Venus is slowly losing its atmosphere

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Venus

New research shows how the Sun and the atmosphere of Venus interact, making the planet lose 300kg of atmospheric gas every day. The research, published in the journal Planetary and Space Science, comes from two teams led by scientists at UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

UCL to play role in world's largest solar telescope

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DKIST

The UK science community has secured a pivotal role in the world's largest ground-based solar telescope, the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST).

UCL scientists honoured in annual RAS awards

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Harra

Two UCL scientists and one scientific collaboration led by a UCL researcher have been recognised in this year's Royal Astronomical Society Awards.

MSSL Solar Physics Recognised in RAS Awards 2015

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Members of the Hinode EIS team, winners of the RAS Group Achievement Award (G) 2015

The work and achievements of members of the MSSL Solar Physics Group has been recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society in their annual awards. The Group Achievement Award in Geophysics went to the Hinode EIS team, led by MSSL's Prof. Louise Harra, and the RAS Service Award was awarded to Prof. Lidia van Driel-Gesztelyi.

Origin of polar auroras revealed

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Theta aurora (courtesy NASA)

Researchers from UCL, University of Southampton and University of Leicester together with ESA and NASA have uncovered the origin of a colourful display in the night sky called ‘theta aurora’, explaining for the first time how auroras at high-latitudes form.

Research Excellence Framework 2014 Results

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MSSL is delighted to be part of the top-rated university in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework, and to be listed as one of the top physics departments in the UK.

REF publication: key results for the faculty

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Researcher in the LCN

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) has now been published, giving the government’s assessment of research quality across all the UK’s universities.

MSSL Awards 2014

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George Seabrook, winner of the Elizabeth Puchnarewicz Award 2014

Staff and students gathered to celebrate their achievements at the annual MSSL Awards Ceremony on 20th November, 2014. This event recognises the achievements of staff and students across the range of activities undertaken by MSSL. This years awards went to:

Pioneering work helps to join the dots across the known universe… and the human brain

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SKA Telescope (CC BY)

A team of astrophysicists, engineers and computer scientists are spearheading research on imaging techniques which will potentially not only unlock secrets from the far reaches of the universe, but also impact modern medicine.

Mars has macroweather too

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Mars from Hubble Space Telescope (Credit: ESA/NASA Source: ESA)

But weather forecasting on the Red Planet is likely to be even trickier than on Earth

Mars has the same three-part pattern of atmospheric conditions as Earth, finds a new study by researchers at UCL and McGill University. This includes weather, which changes day-to-day due to constant fluctuations in the atmosphere; climate, which varies over decades and a third regime called macroweather, which describes the relatively stable regime between weather and climate.

Waiting for the Philae landing...

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Philae descending to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014. Image: ESA/ATG medialab

The Planetary Science group at UCL-MSSL are eagerly awaiting the Philae landing planned for Wednesday this week. Professor Andrew Coates is a co-investigator in the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) on the orbiter, which will be monitoring the plasma environment during the descent and landing, and has already been making measurements of the comet plasma environment since achieving orbit in August. He will be an invited guest at ESOC for the landing itself.

Zap! Spacecraft discovers Saturn's moon Hyperion is charged

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Hyperion

The Cassini spacecraft received the equivalent of a 200 volt electric shock from the electrostatically charged surface of Saturn’s moon Hyperion, confirming that objects in the outer Solar System can have charged surfaces, according to UCL research.

'Arthur' awards for two UCL space scientists

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Solar flare seen by Hinode

Prof Louise Harra and Dr Lucie Green of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) were each awarded an 'Arthur' by the British Interplanetary Society at an event held at the Royal Aeronautical Society on Wednesday.

Upflowing Gas from the Sun’s Active Regions – Can it Reach Earth?

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Research presented last week at the European Solar Physics Meeting, held at Trinity College Dublin, shows how scientists are solving a 60-year old paradox relating to our Sun’s million degree atmosphere. A super-sonic solar wind blows out from the atmosphere in regions where a strong magnetic field should instead keep it confined. The key to unravelling the contradiction has been found to lie in magnetic wind tunnels that channel hot gas from regions where it is trapped, to regions where it can escape into the Solar System

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