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UCL Astrophysics Group

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Dr Anasuya Aruliah

Dr Anasuya Aruliah

Associate Professor

Dept of Physics & Astronomy

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1997

Research summary

My main area of interest is the observation of the thermosphere using Fabry-Perot Interferometers, and in particular the investigation of small-scale structures (temporal and spatial); and the energetics and dynamics of ionosphere-thermosphere coupling in the auroral regions. My latest interest is in finding the absolute density of the thermosphere via satellite drag. This involves collaborations with space and satellite engineers. Absolute density is of particular importance for precise satellite orbit prediction, at a time when there is an exponential increase in the numbers of spacecraft being launched with little regulation. Space junk is a critical worry. Another issue is that the sun appears to be going into a period of Grand Solar Minimum. Consequently it is time for a re-calibration of upper atmosphere models which were calibrated using data from the 1960s-1980s, which was a period of Grand Solar Maximum.

The Atmospheric Physics Laboratory operates FPIs and an all-sky FPI called SCANDI at 3 sites in the arctic regions of Scandinavia (Longyearbyen, Svalbard; Kiruna, Sweden; Sodankyla, Finland). These instruments were designed and built by the group and we aim to visit each one once every winter to perform routine calibration and maintenance. We operate the FPIs remotely from UCL throughout the long winter nights to observe auroral and airglow emissions. We have provided ground support observations for international rocket experiments (e.g. CREX, Delta-1 and 2, RENU); and run coordinated experiments with the EISCAT and SuperDARN radars, and other instruments in that region. We have also provided observational comparisons with the APL's Earth atmospheric global circulation model - the Coupled Middle Atmosphere and Thermosphere (CMAT2) model. We have been involved with the QB50 CubeSat mission, which was initially funded by an EU FP7 grant as a technology transfer mission for miniaturised sensors and the safe deployment of multiple nanosatellites from a single site. Thirty six CubeSats were deployed from the International Space Station and the Indian Polar Space Launch Vehicle rocket in summer 2017. We have monitored their decaying orbits and collected measurements of particle densities as they slowly descended through regions of the upper atmosphere that are poorly understood.

The measurements and modelling studies have been used in several 4th year and MSc student projects, as well as PhD projects.

Teaching summary

Teaching-wise I am the MSc Admissions Tutor for Physics & Astronomy, and the Graduate Tutor for the Data Intensive Science Centre of Doctoral Training. I am currently teaching a 3rd year/MSc course: Physics of the Earth. My past experience is of teaching and coordinating large classes: I coordinated the 2nd year undergraduate laboratories for 3 years and then the 3rd year undergraduate laboratories for 2 years. I took on the core 2nd year course Electricity and Magnetism from 2011-2016, in addition to coordinating the 4th year Astronomy projects. I have lectured small and medium size undergraduate courses on Waves, Electricity and Magnetism; Physics of the Solar System. Additionally I am a personal tutor to 15 Physics/Astrophysics/Natural Sciences students, supervise undergraduate and postgraduate projects, and give problem classes in maths and physics. I have had experience on the Departmental Teaching Committee as the Astrophysics representative. I also regularly take on work experience students, in particular supervising longer term summer projects with 6th form students from under-represented schools, sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation.

Education

University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1991
University of Oxford
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 1984

Biography

I have a Physics degree from the University of Oxford (Somerville College) in 1984. My PhD is from UCL (1991), where I continued as a post-doc in the Atmospheric Physics Laboratory. I have been running the group's ground-based optical programme since 1995. My work is divided between research and teaching in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Currently I am a member of the NERC Peer Review College and have been a member of several NERC moderating panels over since the ground-based observational component of the UK's Solar-Terrestrial Physics research community was transferred from PPARC/STFC to NERC. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and member of the American Geophysical Union.

Publications