MSSL Planetary Science News

Planetary group student organises Sample Space Science Week at MSSL for sixth formers

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.”

The week offers pupils the opportunity to:

  • Try-out astrophysics and space science research at the forefront of the field
  • Network and meet active scientists at a world-leading space science laboratory
  • Gain a wealth of experience for UCAS applications and University interviews
  • Learn skills, techniques and knowledge that are invaluable for science and engineering degrees, work and research

Each morning, pupils undertook workshops using real data from active space missions at the cutting-edge of astrophysics, including the Gaia, Kepler and SOHO missions. The workshops showcased a variety of tools and techniques commonly used in the fields and included: ‘6-dimensional mapping of the Milky Way’; ‘Connections between Solar storms and Earth’s aurora’; ‘Searching for new Habitable Worlds’ and ‘Sending and Receiving Data from Space Missions’.


Throughout the week pupils also worked in teams on research projects, to build insight into the processes and restrictions involved in designing, managing and building missions to conduct observations and experiments at the forefront of science. Pupils worked on projects involving: extrasolar planets, the moons of gas giants, manned space exploration, space weather and designing public awareness campaigns for the SMILE mission. At the end of the week, they presented these research projects to senior academics at MSSL.

One of the work experience pupils, Thea Elvin, said of the week: “I found all the talks really interesting and inspiring and I especially enjoyed the project work - I have been trying to teach my family about the charge exchange on Jupiter!”


MSSL’s Planetary Group member William Dunn, the chair of the organisation team of the week, said of the programme: “We felt that by introducing pupils to space science, through dynamic and enthusiastic researchers who are still deeply involved in the field’s latest developments, the programme would provide unique educational opportunities. We hope it might inspire a few more pupils to take up physics and engineering courses at University and help them to realise how exciting a career on the forefront of human scientific endeavour can be.”

MSSL hopes to offer the programme again next summer. So if you are interested in attending, still at school/sixth form college, and will be over 16 when the week takes place, then please contact Libby Daghorn (l.daghorn AT and William Dunn (w.dunn AT at MSSL for further details.

Page last modified on 29 jul 15 15:46