MSSL News

QB50 satellites deployed from ISS

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Three QB50 CubeSats being deployed from the ISS. Courtesy: NASA

Congratulations to the QB50 mission for the successful deployment of 11 CubeSats from the International Space Station. MSSL designed and built Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometers are carried by 2 of the CubeSats launched so far. More to come next week!

MSSL receives Euclid VIS Focal Plane Assembly

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Delivery of the Euclid VIS FPA to MSSL

The Euclid Visible Instrument (VIS) Focal Plan Assembly structural thermal model was delivered at MSSL on Wednesday 17th May. The VIS Instrument is one of two instruments on ESA's Euclid cosmology mission to investigate the evolution and composition of the universe, in particular the properties of dark energy, dark matter and gravity. 

Research Associate in Solar Wind Plasma Physics

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We seek to appoint a scientifically productive post-doctoral scientist to undertake research in the area of space plasma physics, with particular emphasis on studies which are relevant to our preparations for the upcoming ESA Solar Orbiter mission.  UCL/MSSL is the Principal Investigator institute for the Solar Wind Analyser (SWA) suite of instruments for this mission.  The appointee will be expected to use relevant data from current or previous missions to perform scientific investigations prior to the availability of the state-of-the-art SWA data which will be collected by Solar Orbiter following launch in 2019.

Half a century of space at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory

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MSSL staff

Under the leadership of Harrie Massey (Quain Professor of Physics and head of the Physics Department), UCL became the leading UK university in space research during the 1950s. From this pioneering start sprung UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its official opening this week.

Half a century of space at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory

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50 years of MSSL (cake by Sue)

Under the leadership of Harrie Massey (Quain Professor of Physics and head of the Physics Department) UCL became the leading UK university doing space research in the 1950s. From this pioneering start sprung UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its official opening this week. 

Training Programme Administrator and Marketing Officer

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The Department of Space and Climate Physics is a research and teaching department of UCL, with a particular emphasis on space instrumentation. The department participates in international space science missions by providing custom instrumentation, hardware and/or software products and also by exploiting and interpreting the scientific aspects of the data that the missions obtain. The department is therefore a centre of astrophysics, space science and engineering expertise. To support these projects, a wide range of skills in ‘technology management’ have been developed in the department, and the Technology Management Group (TMG) within UCL Space & Climate Physics is a focus for these skills.

Successful launch of first phase of QB50 CubeSats on their way to the International Space Station

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Originally conceived by the European Space Agency’s Dr Ruedeger Reinhard, QB50 is a European Union-funded mission to support universities and schools from all over the world in designing, building and launching their own small, affordable satellites called CubeSats to collectively study the physics and chemistry of the middle and lower thermosphere of the Earth for the first time.

Electronics Design and Test Engineers (2 posts)

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Applications are invited for the post of Electronics Design and Test Engineer within the electronics engineering group at MSSL. These posts are in the Department of Space and Climate Physics (www.ucl.ac.uk/mssl/) at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory. For administrative purposes, the Department is part of the UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MAPS). MSSL is located in its own campus in the Surrey Hills, surrounded by woodland. MSSL is the UK’s largest university space research group. Space science is a discipline that demands highly innovative technologies and MSSL has an international reputation for excellence in this area. Since MSSL was established in 1966, we have participated in over 40 satellite missions with the European Space Agency, NASA, Japan, Russia, China and India, and have flown over 230 rocket experiments. The total staff compliment is approximately 170. The engineering groups have all the capabilities needed to design, build and test space science instruments in house. We have been successful in our bids to provide instruments for the Solar Orbiter, PLATO, ExoMars PanCam and Euclid missions in Cosmic Vision, the current science programme of the European Space Agency and hence need to recruit additional staff. The Electronic Engineering Group consists of design engineers working on a diverse range of electronic disciplines supported by PCB layout and assembly groups.

Senior Electronics Engineer (2 posts)

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Applications are invited for the post of Senior Electronics Engineer within the electronics engineering group at MSSL. There are a number of ongoing projects that this application relates to initially. The development and test of Charged Coupled Devices (CCD) front end read-out electronics. Front-end electronics are located within the instruments focal plane next to the CCDs and provide all the necessary functions to clock the CCD and read out images. Communications with data processing units are via Spacewire high speed digital link implemented within a field programmable gate array based digital control system. National Instruments LabVIEW is widely used in our ground check-out systems and we use Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools from Mentor Graphics for PCB and FPGA design.

Space Policy Workshop 2016

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In 2016 MSSL ran the first in what is planned to be a series of Space Policy Workshops. The report from that workshop is now available to download.

MAPS Faculty Postgraduate Prize Winners and Dean’s Commendations Announced

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Ekaterini Katsouri (L) and Thomas Armitage (R)

Congratulations to Thomas Armitage, winner of the 2016 Faculty Postgraduate Research Prize, and to Ekaterini Katsouri, winner of the 2016 Faculty Postgraduate Taught Prize.

Down close and personal: New project to run satellites nearer to Earth

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Discoverer satellite

A €5.7m project to develop technologies that will allow satellites to survive and operate at orbits closer to Earth than ever before – considerably lower than the international space station – has recently been launched.

Down close and personal: New project to run satellites nearer to Earth

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A €5.7m project to develop technologies that will allow satellites to survive and operate at orbits closer to Earth than ever before – considerably lower than the international space station – has recently been launched. The project, led by the University of Manchester, is funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme and will go a significant way to making satellites smaller, cheaper, dodge space debris and improve the quality of images they can send back. The Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), the Department of Space and Climate Physics of UCL, is a key participant in the project along with 8 other institutes from 7 European countries. 

UCL secures STFC funding to teach next generation of data-science experts

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Panasas aisle (Credit: STFC)

After a very competitive selection process, UCL has been chosen by STFC to host the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Data Intensive Science (DIS) and Technologies, the first CDT funded by STFC.

PhDs available at MSSL

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MSSL PhDs 2017

MSSL currently has a number of PhD places available to start in the 2017-18 academic year. These positions are available across the range of disciplines and research areas at MSSL and are covered by RCUK funding.

MSSL Space Plasma Physics researchers celebrated by Royal Astronomical Society

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Dr. Zhonghua Yao and Prof. Chris Owen

We would like to offer our warmest congratulations to Professor Chris Owen and Dr. Zhonghua Yao, recipients of two prestigious awards from the Royal Astronomical Society. Prof. Owen will give the 2017 “James Dungey Lecture” and Dr. Yao was awarded the “Winton Capital Award” for research by a Post Doctoral Fellow in a UK institution whose career has shown the most promising development.

Dr Zhonghua Yao and Professor Chris Owen awarded Royal Astronomical Society prizes

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Dr Zhonghua Yao

The Winton Capital Award for Geophysics is awarded to Dr Zhonghua Yao. Dr Yao is an exceptional post-doctoral research associate, at the start of a stellar career. He has made significant scientific breakthroughs within the field of magnetospheric plasma physics using novel analysis techniques, and he has already proven himself to be a remarkably capable researcher with outstanding scientific insight. 

First signs of weird quantum property of empty space?

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The polarisation of light emitted by a neutron star

By studying the light emitted from an extraordinarily dense and strongly magnetised neutron star using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect, first predicted in the 1930s. The polarisation of the observed light suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence.

Gaia sizes up 1.1 billion stars

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Artist’s impression of Gaia spacecraft, with the Milky Way in the background (Credit: ESA/ATG MEDIALAB; background image: ESO/S. Brunier)

Gaia, a European Space Agency satellite designed to unlock the secrets of the birth and evolution of the Milky Way, has released its first wave of data on the positions and brightness for about one billion stars. 

Report on Space Weather impacts to finance published

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UCL researchers have been applying their knowledge of “space weather” to help the the finance sector build their resilience to this natural phenomenon. Space weather refers to changes in the near-Earth space that are caused by the Sun. Huge explosions and eruptions in the Sun’s atmosphere reach out and cause changes in the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, and this ultimately has knock-on effects to much of our modern technology, for example electricity distribution, satellite services and communications. A new report led by UCL lays out guidance on how to factor space weather risks into business resiliency planning for the finance sector, and discusses how businesses might be impacted.

MSSL Deliver First QB50 INMS

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From left-to-right: Duncan Rust, Alan Smith, Dhiren Kataria and Robert Wicks. Dhiren is holding the first QB50 INMS

Dhiren Kataria (centre-right) sets off to deliver the first of 12 Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometers (INMS) to the QB50 project. INMS is the latest in a long line of space particle detectors designed, built and tested by MSSL and follows the successful operation of a similar instrument on the UK's TechDemoSat-1 launched in 2014.

Professor Claire Carmalt appointed as new Head of Department for Chemistry

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Professor Claire Carmalt

The Faculty is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Claire Carmalt as the new Head of Department for UCL Chemistry. The appointment will be effective as of next academic year (2016-17). She will be the 18th Head of Department for Chemistry and the first woman appointed to the position.

Prof Louise Harra and team awarded 2016 Daiwa Adrian Prizes

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Image of the Hinode spacecraft. Major UCL collaborations with the Japanese have been building and operating instruments on spacecraft studying the Sun - and then the science that follows.

The winners of the 2016 Daiwa Adrian Prizes, the prestigious awards for scientific collaboration in the UK and Japan, have been announced. Following an assessment conducted by a panel of Fellows of the Royal Society, the Trustees of The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation have awarded four Daiwa Adrian Prizes of £10,000 to joint UK-Japan scientific research teams.

New Dean of Mathematical & Physical Sciences appointed

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Prof Ivan Parkin

he faculty is delighted to announce the appointment of Prof Ivan Parkin as the new Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. The appointment will be effective as of next academic year (2016-17).

Einstein's general relativity passes another stringent test

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In this image — one of the deepest ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope — most of the luminous sources are distant galaxies. The expansion of the Universe causes a cosmological redshift, so that the most distant sources appear reddest. The work of Ferreras & Trujillo explores this reddening effect by use of galaxy spectra, decomposing light into its different wavelengths (i.e. colours).

In a recent paper published today in the Astrophysical Journal, Ignacio Ferreras (UCL Space & Climate Physics/Mullard Space Science Laboratory) and Ignacio Trujillo (IAC) presented the most detailed test of the so-called cosmological redshift.

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