External Speaker Seminars

Organiser: Allan Macneil, MSSL.

If you are interested in giving a seminar on any space plasma physics related topic at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory please contact Allan Macneil, Colin Forsyth, Chris Owen, or Daniel Verscharen.

Upcoming Talks

23 May 2018 - 13:00 - MSSL Library

Speaker: Robert Burston from University of Bath

Title: Planets, Plasmoids, Leaky Taps, Springs and Chaos


How are intrinsic planetary magnetotails, leaky taps and certain types of coiled-spring systems related? Each system has a characteristic tension force which can be the source of oscillations. More specifically they can all be viewed as "relaxation oscillators" that exhibit different types of behaviour depending on system parameters. This seminar investigates the analogy between these different physical systems and discusses the observed types of behaviour of a model that qualitatively fits all of them, from the perspective of dynamical systems theory. The principle modes of behaviour are limit cycles and chaotic dynamics. These behaviours are defined and evidence for them in the model is presented. Implications for studies of planetary magnetotails are discussed. No background in dynamical systems theory or chaos theory is required.

29 June 2018 - 15:00 - MSSL Library

Speaker: George Livadiotis from Southwest Research Institute

Title: Kappa Distributions: Theory and Applications in Space Plasmas


Classical collisional particle systems residing in thermal equilibrium have their particle velocity/energy distribution function stabilized into a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. On the contrary, space and astrophysical plasmas are exotic collisionless particle systems residing in stationary states characterized by the so-called kappa distribution function. Kappa distributions have become increasingly widespread across the physics of astrophysical plasma processes, describing particles in the heliosphere, from the solar wind and planetary magnetospheres to the heliosheath and beyond, the interstellar and intergalactic plasmas. A breakthrough in the field came with the connection of kappa distributions with statistical mechanics and thermodynamics: kappa distributions maximize the entropy of nonextensive statistical mechanics under the constraints of canonical ensemble, while particle systems exchanging heat with each other are eventually stabilized into a kappa distribution. The seminar will review the physical foundations and recent developments of kappa distributions in space and astrophysical plasmas.

Past Talks

Date Speaker Affiliation Title
8 May 2018 Dr. Christopher Chen Queen Mary University of London Turbulence and Heating in the Solar Wind 
1 May 2018 Dr. Chadi Salem SSL, UC Berkeley Combining Radio Receivers and Electrostatic Analyzers for Accurate Measurements of Solar Wind Electrons: WIND Observations
25 January 2018 Dr. Owen Roberts ESA ESTEC The solar wind power spectrum observed from Cluster: insights in three dimensions and at sub ion scales
22 October 2015 Prof. Gerhard Haerendel Max Planck Institute for  Extraterrestrial Physics Current sheet avalanche and substorm breakup
25 August 2015
Dr. Luke Barnard University of Reading
Solar Stormwatch CME Catalogue
28 July 2015
Prof. Ken McCracken
University of Maryland The temporal variability of the cosmic radiation, solar activity, and the heliospheric magnetic field over the past 10,000 years
22 April 2015 Dr. Laurence Billingham  British Geological Survey The British Geological Survey Geomagnetism Team
18 March 2015 Dr. Heli Hietala Imperial College London Unravelling the solar wind drivers of the storm-time radiation belt response
24 February 2015
Nathan Pilkington 
University College London How does Plasma Shape Saturn's Magnetosphere?
18 February 2015 Dr. Robert Fear University of Southampton Observational tests of flux transfer event structure
 29 January 2015 Dr. Mick Denton Lancaster University A new empirical model of ion and electron fluxes at geosynchronous orbit
9 October 2014
David Miles
University of Alberta
Next- Generation Fluxgate Magnetometry at the University of Alberta
7 October 2014
Dr. Hanna Dahlgren
Royal Institute of
Technology KTH/ University of Southampton
Energy and flux characteristics of dynamic fine scale aurora
20 August 2014
Prof. Ian Mann
University of Alberta
The Impacts of Ultra Low Frequency Waves on the Dynamics of the Earth’s Van Allen Belts
14 August 2014
Dr. Andrew Walsh
 ESAC Automatic Georeferencing of Astronaut Auroral Photography: Providing A New Dataset for Space Physics
6 June 2014
Dr. Lorenzo Matteini
Imperial College London
 Kinetic Processes in the Solar Wind

12 May 2014
Prof. Michael Balikhin
University of Sheffield
System Approach to Solar-Terrestrial Physics: Advance in Physical Understanding and Space Weather Forcast
7 April 2014
John Coxon
University of Leicester
The Birkeland current system and its place in the expanding/contracting polar cap paradigm
18 March 2014
Dr. Catriona Jackman
University of Southampton
Dynamics of the magnetotails of Jupiter and Saturn from magnetic field and plasma flow measurements
10 October 2013
Dr. David Knudsen
University of Calgary
Thermal Ion Imaging and its Role on Swarm and the Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe Satellites
07 June 2011 Dr. Jonathan Eastwood Imperial College Cluster observations of magnetic reconnection and the ion diffusion region in the Earth's magnetotail
20 April 2011 Prof. E. Dubinin  Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Germany Induced magnetospheres at Mars and Venus: Open questions
01 February 2011 Dr. Craig Leff MSSL ExoMars PanCam Project Manager A review of MER surface operations, with implications for MSL and ExoMars
13 October 2010 Dr. Yasir Soobiah Swedish Institute for Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden The search for Martian aurora signatures in MEX ASPERA-3 IMA observations
20 September 2010 Prof. Rajmal Jain Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad Indian missions to study solar and interplanetary plasma

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