MSSL Planetary Science News
Strong 'electric wind' strips planets of oceans and atmospheres
Publication date: 21 June 2016
Liftoff to Mars!
Publication date: 6 April 2016
On 14 March, the first
mission of the ESA-Russia ExoMars programme began its journey to Mars from the
Baikonur cosmodrome. Soaring over the steppes of Kazakhstan, the Proton rocket
and Briz upper stage both performed flawlessly, putting the first of the two ExoMars
missions on course for Mars with arrival in October 2016. This opens a new era
of European-Russian Mars exploration – with UCL-MSSL and UCL's Centre for Planetary Sciences (CPS) playing key
Solar storms trigger Jupiter's 'Northern Light'
Publication date: 31 March 2016
Giotto at Halley: 30 years ago!
Publication date: 14 March 2016
It was the year of the tragic Challenger
disaster – but UCL-MSSL was making good news in space and making history too. The
Giotto spacecraft carried 10 instruments, including one led by UCL-MSSL just
596 km (MSSL to ESOC distance!) from comet Halley on the night of 13th/14th
March, with some spectacular results.
Saturn and Enceladus produce the same amount of plasma
Publication date: 11 February 2016
UCL's ExoMars PanCam kit one step closer to Mars
Publication date: 4 December 2015
The UCL-made ‘structural-thermal model’ of the ExoMars PanCam instrument for the joint ESA-Roscosmos (Russian space agency) 2018 rover mission leaves UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) today for Airbus UK in Stevenage. This is the first of several steps on the way to Mars - in 2016, UCL will deliver engineering- and flight models. The flight model will be the actual instrument which travels to Mars where it will identify promising targets for the mission.
Cassini mission provides insight into Saturn
Publication date: 1 December 2015
Ions from Comet 67P – early Rosetta results and increasing activity
Publication date: 27 October 2015
As a comet nears the Sun, its icy nucleus heats, and neutral water and other gas molecules sublime, carrying ice and dust grains away also. The gas ionizes in sunlight, producing pickup ions. In a new paper, Andrew Coates and colleagues look at the early pickup process at 67P using data from the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) particle instruments. They compare the results to what was learned with the AMPTE and Giotto missions 30 years ago. The trajectory of Rosetta, the first spacecraft to fly with a comet at different distances to the Sun, is ideal for this. They discuss an elegant momentum balance seen between the new-born pickup ions and the solar wind.
Planetary group student organises Sample Space Science Week at MSSL for sixth formers
Publication date: 29 July 2015
MSSL has just finished its second annual work experience week for sixth formers. Adi Ramani, one of the sixth formers taking part, explains enthusiastically: “It was an amazing week. I don’t think anything was lacking. It is the perfect experience for anyone wanting to pursue Physics or Engineering.”
Titan's atmosphere even more Earth-like than previously thought
Publication date: 18 June 2015
Scientists at UCL have observed how a widespread polar wind is driving gas from the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. The team analysed data gathered over seven years by the NASA/ESA Cassini probe, and found that the interactions between Titan’s atmosphere, and the solar magnetic field and radiation, create a wind of hydrocarbons and nitriles being blown away from the top of its atmosphere into space. This is very similar to the wind observed coming from the Earth’s polar regions.
Venus is slowly losing its atmosphere
Publication date: 19 February 2015
Planetary Space Weather
Publication date: 1 December 2014
In an article just published in Astronomy and Astrophysics Reviews, Jean Lilensten (IPAG, Grenoble), Andrew Coates (UCL-MSSL) and co-authors discuss the emergence of a new interdisciplinary topic - planetary space weather.
ExoMars landing sites narrowed down – and PanCam appears on BBC News
Publication date: 3 April 2014
The first landing site selection workshop for the Esa-Roscosmos ExoMars rover was held on 26-28 March at ESAC near Madrid. Prof Andrew Coates of the Planetary Science Group attended the meeting, as Principal Investigator of the PanCam instrument on the rover. MSSL leads the international PanCam team which includes hardware from Germany and Switzerland, with important contributions from Austria, as well as the UK. PanCam includes a pair of wide angle cameras (WACs) for stereo imaging and a High Resolution Camera (HRC) for zoom capability. PanCam provides geological and atmospheric context for the mission.
Kimberley Birkett awarded 2013 Outstanding Student Paper Award (OSPA) at the AGU Fall Meeting
Publication date: 17 January 2014
Research Images Competition
Publication date: 18 December 2013
Publication date: 14 November 2013
ExoMars prototype in Atacama Desert
The week of 7-12 October saw an ambitious test of a prototype ExoMars Rover in the Atacama Desert in Chile, including an emulator of the MSSL-led PanCam instrument. The SAFER trial was controlled from the remote operations centre at the Space Catapult Centre, Harwell attended by Andrew Griffiths and Andrew Coates. Harwell. For more information:
Dr. Chris Arridge awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship
Publication date: 1 November 2012
Dr. Chris Arridge has commenced a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF) in the Planetary Science Group at MSSL and is joined by Dr. Lucie Green (Solar Physics, URF 2012) and Dr. Tom Kitching (Astrophysics, URF 2011). Professor Alan Smith, Director of MSSL said 'We are very proud to host these three exceptional scientists and look forward to working with them in the years to come. They will significantly strengthen our engagement in science exploitation, future missions, outreach and education.'
Planetary science group hosts Cassini CAPS Team Meeting 43
Publication date: 31 May 2012
Selection of JUICE mission to Jupiter and Ganymede by ESA
Publication date: 8 May 2012
ESA's next "large class" (L-class) mission will be a mission called JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer) to study the giant planet Jupiter, its planetary system and magnetosphere, and particularly its moon Ganymede.
Planetary group scientists attend Cassini Magnetospheric and Plasma Science Meeting
Publication date: 2 April 2012
Comet studies in the planetary group catch media attention at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting
Publication date: 28 March 2012
In a presentation at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester, planetary group PhD student Yudish Ramanjooloo presented his work on using amateur images of comets to infer the properties of the surrounding solar wind. This work was picked up for a media article in Sky at Night online.
Planetary group attends the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester
Publication date: 28 March 2012
Dr. Gethyn Lewis attends a meeting of the Spacecraft Plasma Interaction Network
Publication date: 5 March 2012
Dr. Gethyn Lewis will attend a consortium meeting of the Spacecraft Plasma Interaction Network of Europe (SPINE) at the European Space Agency's space research and technology centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, from 5 - 7 March 2012. The SPINE consortium aims to share resources and coordinate efforts to understand and model the interaction of spacecraft with their space plasma environments, including spacecraft charging. Dr. Lewis has been involved in modelling work using tools (Spacecraft Plasma Interaction System - SPIS) developed by the SPINE consortium to understand the charging of the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn.
Dione's thin oxygen exosphere
Publication date: 2 March 2012
Dione is a moon of Saturn, discovered in 1684 by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini. Over 300 years later, planetary scientists including Andrew Coates and Geraint Jones from MSSL-UCL, have discovered that Dione has a weak exosphere near its surface (at planets with denser atmospheres, the exosphere is the outermost layer of its atmosphere). This work was featured on BBC News Online and is also the feature of a science nugget on the planetary science group website.
Planetary Group attends the 2011 Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco
Publication date: 8 December 2011
Drs. Geraint Jones, Adam Masters, and Mr Yudish Ramanjooloo are attending the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco, USA.
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