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Planetary Science

The Planetary Science Group at MSSL is a leading research group studying planetary systems across the Solar System and beyond. Our science themes are planetary magnetospheres, moon interactions, surfaces and comets. We produce scientific instruments for international space exploration missions, such as the Cassini mission to Saturn, and then analyse the information which comes back from those instruments. We are analysing data from some of the Solar System's most interesting scientific targets, including Saturn and its moons Titan, Enceladus and Rhea, Mars, Venus and comets. The group is also heavily involved in future missions to Mars, Jupiter and other Solar System bodies. Previous missions include Beagle 2 and the Giotto mission to comets Halley and Grigg-Skjellerup. We work closely with the MSSL Space Plasma Physics and Imaging groups and the UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy, and are part of the Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck.


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Professor Andrew Fazakerly presents Professor Michael Arthur with a picture taken by the PanCam engineering model

PanCam takes picture of UCL's Provost

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur visited MSSL today (6 July 2018), with Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MAPS) Professor Ivan Parkin and Faculty Manager Donna Williamson. More...

Cassini and Saturn's Magnetosphere. Credit: ESA

Magnetic field collisions around Saturn reveal planetary differences

Magnetic reconnection – the explosive reconfiguration of two magnetic fields – occurs differently around Saturn than around Earth, according to new findings from the international Cassini mission involving UCL researchers. More...

Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers) (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles)

Jupiter's X-Ray auroras pulse independently

Jupiter’s intense northern and southern lights pulse independently of each other according to new UCL-led research using ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatories. More...

This illustration of the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn depicts the planet’s enormous magnetic field and the bow shock created as the solar wind runs into it. The cusps can be seen as the funnel-shaped regions that reach down to the planet’s poles. Credit: ESA

Probing the Cusps of Saturn's Magnetic Field

Data from the Cassini spacecraft show that the cusp regions of Saturn’s magnetic field—where it connects to the Sun’s magnetic field—have similarities to Earth’s and also intriguing differences. More...

Venus' electric wind (credit: Dr Glyn Collinson)

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.
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Page last modified on 12 jul 18 16:15