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Planetary and Plasma Physics
The original Atmospheric Physics Laboratory, part of UCL Astrophysics,
has, over the course of the last two decades,
developed a suite of planetary global circulation models,
in many cases of the hydrodynamic core of the UCL Earth
model. The planetary
models which have been developed include those for Jupiter
(JIM / JASMIN),
Saturn (KIM) and Mars (MarTIM). Important contributions to
this planetary work have been
made by past graduate students and PDRAs, who have been
Professor Alan Aylward and Professor Steve Miller. Prof. Aylward, as well as being
involved in model development, also has extensive
experience of terrestrial auroral and ionospheric
observations, including analysis of
data from radar instruments and Fabry-Perot interferometers.
Prof. Miller has established
an observational programme, based on giant planet aurorae
and the emissions of cometary
regions, often analysing the infared emissions of the
H3+ molecular ion
found in these
The group has in more recent years extended the focus of its research beyond the upper atmospheres of planets into the magnetosphere region, largely due to the work of Dr. Nicholas Achilleos and his collaborators on the Cassini Mission at Saturn. In particular, we are involved with magnetospheric and auroral studies at the planets Saturn and Jupiter, through established and nascent collaborations with Cassini and HST scientists.
We list below the people involved in these activities and our collaborators at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL). We also describe our various research activities in the broader context of Solar System plasma environments and atmospheres. For a global overview of all planetary research at UCL, a useful link is the UCL Centre for Planetary Sciences.
UCL Physics and Astronomy (Bloomsbury Campus)
- Dr. Nicholas Achilleos (Lecturer, Group Coordinator) Nick's initial research, as a postgraduate student in Australia, was in the field of the magnetic atmospheres of white dwarf stars. Subsequently, he was a PDRA at UCL, a software engineer in industry, and a support scientist for the Cassini Magnetometer Team at Imperial College. Currently a lecturer with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, his
research interests include the magnetospheric dynamics of Saturn and Jupiter, and how these planets' magnetospheres influence their atmospheric flows and aurorae. For more details, follow links at his UCL Profile.
- Prof. Alan Aylward
Alan is the head of the Atmospheric Physics Laboratory, and has conducted research into (terrestrial) thermospheric and ionospheric physics, incoherent scatter radar, planetary upper atmospheres and ionospheres, and modelling of terrestrial and planetary atmospheres.
- Prof. Steve Miller (Professor of Planetary Astronomy) Steve has established important planetary observational programmes, and is also interested in: Chemistry and dynamics of the atmospheres of the Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Titan; using H3+ to investigate planetary atmospheres and the early Universe; and communicating scientific ideas to the media and general public (he is also the Head of Science and Technology Studies at UCL).
- Dr. Patrick Guio (Research Associate) Patrick's background is mainly in the field of plasma physics, both theory and observation. His interests include the simulation of plasma turbulence, dust-plasma interactions, incoherent scattering and high-performance computing. Since taking up his post at UCL, he has also collaborated on studies of Saturn's magnetic field and plasma environment, and characterising the structure of auroral emissions. For more details, follow links at
his UCL Profile.
- Dr. Caitriona Jackman (Research Fellow). Caitriona completed her PhD at the University of Leicester, studying the influence of the solar wind on Saturn's magnetospheric dynamics. Subsequently she worked as a research associate at Imperial College London, specialising in magnetic reconnection at Saturn using data from the Cassini mission. She is currently on a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship and Royal Astronomical Society Fellowship, studying energy release from magnetospheres. She will look at the role of magnetotail reconnection in the giant magnetosphere of Saturn and the mini magnetosphere of Mercury. For more details, follow links at her UCL Profile.
- Dr. Licia Ray (NSF Research Fellow). Licia completed her PhD at the University of Colorado, studying the influence of rapid planetary rotation upon ionosphere-magnetosphere coupling at Jupiter. Subsequently she worked as a research associate at Imperial College London.
She is currently on a National Science Foundation fellowship, studying the influence of thermospheric dynamics on M-I coupling.
- Mr. Japheth Yates (Graduate Student) Jaf recently submitted his PhD, which mainly focuses on magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling at Jupiter, and how the Jovian aurora responds to transient changes in the solar wind. More details at his UCL Profile.
- Dr. Christopher Arridge (Royal Society Fellow)
Chris' main research interests lie in the area of
magnetospheric structure and
dynamics of the giant planets in the Solar System. Using
Cassini field and plasma
data, he has completed many studies of the structure of
Saturn's plasma disc and
current sheet, the planet's magnetospheric boundaries, and
the periodic phenomena
observed in the Cassini datasets. He has collaborated
recently with Nick and Patrick
in constructing field and plasma models of the disc-like
magnetospheres of Saturn and
Jupiter. More details may be found at his
UCL home pages.
- Dr. Adam Masters (JAXA International Fellow)
Adam currently works with the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) in
Sagamihara, Tokyo. He used
both magnetic and plasma data in his original PhD work,
the bow shock at Saturn, hot flow anomalies upstream of this
region, and the
observable signatures of the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability at
He continues to collaborate with Chris and Nick on Cassini
studies, which have recently
focused on the 'layers' present near Saturn's magnetopause
and the magnetic 'shears'
associated with their current systems. More details may be
found at his
UCL home pages.
|Magnetospheres||Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling / Aurorae|
Page last modified on 22 apr 13 10:29 by Nicholas A Achilleos