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UCL strengthens space research collaborations with Indian Institute of Astrophysics

Delegation visit explored new opportunities for astrophysics research collaboration between UCL and leading Indian institution

UCL academics greet the delegation from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics

11 May 2018

Leading space research academics from UCL hosted a visit from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP) to explore further research opportunities.

The IIAP delegation included Dr Parameswaran Sreekumar, Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Professor Gadiyara Chakrapani Anupama, Senior Professor & Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Professor Sujan Kumar Sengupta and Junior Research Fellow Aritra Chakrabarty.

They met with UCL’s Provost and Vice-Provosts International and Research, as well as leading academics from UCL’s Department of Physics and Astronomy Professor Jonathan Tennyson, Professor Giovanna Tinetti, and Dr Marcell Tessenyi.

Building on links

UCL is a world-leading institute in research on ‘exoplanets’ - planets which orbit a star outside the solar system.

In 2016 Dr Tessenyi, a member of UCL’s Astrophysics Group, attended the first exoplanet symposium in India organised by Prof Sengupta.

On return the UCL team secured support through UCL’s Global Engagement Funds that enabled Prof Tennyson, Prof Tinetti and Dr Tessenyi to co-organise and deliver a workshop on exoplanet data analysis during the 2017 Astronomical Society of India conference in Jaipur the following March. 

A delegation visit to India in September 2017, led by Pro-Vice-Provost (South Asia) Professor Marie Lall and GEO, further strengthened the links and extended the invitation for a reciprocal visit.

Dr Tessenyi said: “It was a real pleasure to host the IIAP team at UCL during their visit. We were able to deliver a packed workshop with a focus on areas of collaboration in astrophysics research. We expect to successfully grow our collaboration with their research group over the coming years.”

Prof Tennyson added: "The visit was a busy one and there are clear synergies between science performed at IIAP and UCL. I am very much looking forward to undertaking some joint projects together.”

Cutting edge research

UCL has a rich portfolio of capabilities and interests in physics, astronomy, and space and climate physics, including the Astrophysics Group of UCL's Department of Physics & Astronomy and UCL’s Department of Space & Climate Physics at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL).

Teams at the university currently lead and drive the ESA M4 mission ARIEL with colleagues from across Europe, as well as the Twinkle Space Mission (‘Twinkle’), a small satellite dedicated to characterizing exoplanet atmospheres that is due to launch in 2021.

IIAP is a leading Indian institution devoted to research in astronomy, astrophysics and related physics and is funded by the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology.

In addition to UCL’s Bloomsbury campus, where Dr Berend Winter presented research projects carried out at MSSL, the delegation visited the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire and Surrey Satellites Technologies Limited. They explored further opportunities for research collaboration and satellites for the Twinkle programme.