UCL Astrophysics Group



The planets in our Solar System with significant internal magnetic fields are surrounded by regions called magnetospheres, which are cavities carved out by the field within the solar wind flow. The Planetary and Plasma Physics subgroup have a background in observation and modelling of these regions, and the processes which interest us include: the global response of the magnetosphere, its magnetic field, and its boundaries to changes in solar wind pressure; the formation and propagation of waves or 'ripples' on the magnetopause, such as those formed by the velocity shear between the magnetosphere and solar wind (Kelvin-Helmholtz instability); the modelling of force balance in the magnetodisc regions of Jupiter and Saturn, and how this reconfigures in response to both external (solar wind) and internal (mass loading from satellites) driving mechanisms. We have made use of spacecraft data, particularly from the Cassini mission at Saturn, in our investigations. We are also now involved in the ESA JUICE-Laplace Mission, currently in development. The target is the Jovian system and its icy moons, launch is anticipated around 2021. Our team are involved in the magnetometer instrument.