Water and dust plumes emanating from the "tiger stripes" on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Adapted from Coates (2012). Courtesy: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Water and dust plumes emanating from the "tiger stripes" on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Adapted from Coates (2012). Courtesy: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics, (Mullard Space Science Laboratory - MSSL), is a world-leading research organisation and is the UK's largest university-based space research group.

MSSL delivers a broad, cutting-edge science programme, underpinned by a strong capability in space science instrumentation, space-domain engineering, space medicine, systems engineering and project management. 

Our scientific research ranges from cosmology and the study of extra-galactic objects, to studies of the Sun, the planets and their moons, the Earth, and humans working and living in space. We also research and develop the next generation of space instrumentation. Our research is supported through UK research councils, the UK Space Agency, European and other grants and contracts.

Student graduation at UCL's campus
Student graduation at UCL's campus


As a department of UCL, members of staff are actively involved in teaching both undergraduates and post-graduates. Our post-graduate education programme consists of taught courses, leading to an M.Sc., and research degrees, leading to an M.Phil or Ph.D.

Students studying at MSSL become active members of their research groups and wider research communities. Research projects in our taught courses give students the opportunity to be involved in the development of new space hardware and future missions. 

The research undertaken at MSSL drives an active outreach programme. Scientists and engineers are happy to talk about their work and run activities for groups of all ages and interests.

Artist's impression of the ExoMars rover. Image: ESA
Artist's impression of the ExoMars rover. Image: ESA


MSSL has a long heritage of providing high-quality space instrumentation for international space research missions. In our >40 year history we have been involved in more than 35 scientific space missions and over 200 rocket launches.

MSSL develops and tests hardware and software, usually as part of an international consortium. Our engineers work along side scientists to ensure that the instruments we produce optimally address key questions in modern space science. Post-launch support that is linked to pre-flight and flight calibrations enables scientists to understand the responses of the instrument, greatly benefitting the analysis of the data.

Engineers and project support staff make up around half the staff and students at MSSL.

One of the twin materials screening chambers at MSSL
One of the twin materials screening chambers at MSSL


As a builder of scientific instruments, MSSL has developed expertise and facilities for manufacturing and testing of space hardware. We make these facilities and expertise available for industrial contracts. 

Through UCL Centre for Systems Engineering (UCLse), we offer a range of industrial training courses in areas including systems engineering, project management, risk management and system design, and conduct consultancy projects for industry in systems engineering and technology management.

UCL Dept. Space & Climate Physics - Mullard Space Science Laboratory
UCL Dept. Space & Climate Physics - Mullard Space Science Laboratory


UCL was one of the first universities in the world to become involved in making scientific observations in space. Since MSSL was established in 1966, we have participated in more than 35 satellite missions and over 200 rocket experiments.

Our groups of research scientists and development engineers work together to ensure that the instruments we produce are as relevant and competitive as possible. The subsequent data analysis and scientific interpretation of data benefits from the fundamental understanding of the instruments gained from their development and testing.

MSSL and its location have a rich heritage that can be explored further on this site.


Euclid System Electronic Engineer

Applications are invited for the post of Euclid System Electrical Engineer for the Visible Instrument on the ESA Euclid dark-energy mission. This is an exciting opportunity to be at the heart of one of the most interesting and important scientific missions under development. The successful candidate will be responsible for oversight of the electrical development of the instrument, in the UK, France, Switzerland and Italy. The role will also include the planning, oversight and in some cases execution of the testing and verification across the consortium institutes. The System Electrical Engineer will also coordinate the design, development and verification of the MSSL developed electronics. More...

Published: Apr 9, 2014 6:10:00 PM

Artist's impression of the ExoMars rover. Copyright: ESA

ExoMars Landing Sites Narrowed Down - And PanCam Appears on BBC News

The first landing site selection workshop for the Esa-Roscosmos ExoMars rover was held on 26-28 March at ESAC near Madrid. Prof Andrew Coates of the Planetary Science Group attended the meeting, as Principal Investigator of the PanCam instrument on the rover. MSSL leads the international PanCam team which includes hardware from Germany and Switzerland, with important contributions from Austria, as well as the UK. PanCam includes a pair of wide angle cameras (WACs) for stereo imaging and a High Resolution Camera (HRC) for zoom capability. PanCam provides geological and atmospheric context for the mission. More...

Published: Apr 7, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Gaia Live!

Gaia Live!

Megan Whewell, George Seabroke and Daisuke Kawata visited the UCL Academy, and explained about the European Space Agency’s new astrometry mission, Gaia (launched on 19th December 2013). This is a part of a Pan-European outreach event for the Gaia mission, Gaia Live in school (http://great.ast.cam.ac.uk/great-itn/gaialive) organised by the GREAT-ITN network, of which MSSL is one of the associate nodes. During the event, 34 schools in different countries in Europe linked up with ESA, and learned about the Gaia mission, which will map a billion stars in our Milky Way.  More...

Published: Mar 27, 2014 8:59:43 AM

All images and text copyright their author and MAY NOT be used for any purposes without the express permission of the original author. All Rights Reserved, 2014.

MSSL student wins UCL poster competition

MSSL student Jason Hunt won 1st prize in the Built Environment, Engineering Sciences and Mathematical & Physical Sciences category in the UCL Graduate School Research Poster Competition 2013/14 for his poster entitled PRIMAL: Mapping the Milky Way from Gaia data. The competition highlights the excellent work done at UCL, showcasing a variety of different projects from different subject areas including Radiation Therapy, Ecology and Galactic Astrophysics. More...

Published: Mar 7, 2014 10:30:07 AM

Artist’s rendition of ESA’s space-telescope PLATO eying into new, exotic worlds, a planetary sys-tem with gas giants and Earth-like planets resembling our Earth – and several more distant stars with planets orbiting them. Credits: DLR (Susanne Pieth)

ESA selects Plato as its next science mission

Plato will discover Earth-like planets in our part of the galaxy and add a whole new dimension the the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Each of the PLATO telescopes will comprise a focal plane of light sensitive detectors made by the UK company e2v. These specially designed devices will be the largest ever flown in space. The associated detailed characterisation of the devices together with their readout electronics, will be developed at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, part of University College London. Professor Alan Smith, director of MSSL said ‘This is a wonderful mission and MSSL are excited to by part of it.  Our role is essential to the mission and builds upon similar involvements in earlier ESA missions”. The mission science is led by Don Pollacco from Warwick University, Cambridge University has a major role in the complex image processing software while the Open University will be engaged with public outreach. More...

Published: Feb 20, 2014 10:08:00 AM

Upcoming Events

6th Alfven Conference on 'Plasma interaction with solar system objects: anticipating Rosetta, Maven and Mars Orbiter Mission'

This conference will explore our understanding of plasma interactions with comets, Mars, Venus, and inner and outer solar system moons. We will explore the processes which characterise the interactions such as ion pickup and field draping, and their effects such as plasma escape. Data from current and recent space missions, modelling and theory are all encouraged, as we explore our local part of the 'plasma universe'. More...

Starts: Jul 7, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Cassini CAPS/INMS Team Meeting

The 46th CAPS team meeting will be jointly held with the INMS team on the 6th - 8th May 2014. The meeting will be hosted by the Planetary Science group at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL). More...

Starts: May 6, 2014 12:00:00 AM

National Astronomy Meeting, 2014

Starts: Jun 23, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Physics of Neutron Stars - 2014

This will be the 10th gathering on neutron star physics in Saint Petersburg (after those in 1988, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2011). In 2014 the conference will commemorate the 100th birthday of Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich (1914—1987), the famous Soviet physicist and astrophysicist. More...

Starts: Jul 28, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Page last modified on 08 sep 11 16:33