UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics

Prof Dhiren Kataria

Prof Dhiren Kataria

Professorial Research Associate

Dept of Space & Climate Physics

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1997

Research summary

Space Plasma Physics with a focus on Space Instrumentation and on In-situ Detection Systems R&D and in particular on solar wind and solar wind-magnetosphere-thermosphere-ionospheric coupling as applied to Space Weather.

Space weather related missions include ESA’s Solar Orbiter launched in February 2020 (Co-Investigator and Suite Instrument Scientist, SWA instrument suite); ESA-CAS SMILE mission (Co-Principal Investigator, Light Ion Analyser); ESA Lagrange Space Weather mission study (Study Lead, In-situ suite); CIRCE and DISCOVERER CubeSat projects (Lead Investigator for UCL's contribution); NASA's cancelled solar sail Sunjammer mission (PI, SWAN instrument) although involvement in another NASA solar sail mission, Solar Cruiser, is under consideration; ESA’s Daedalus EO mission study, aiming to sample the space environment at altitudes lower than 140 km.

Also leads UCL-MSSL’s CubeSat R& D Programme. Programme initiated by Dhiren in 2008, resulting in involvements in several CubeSat missions and mission studies to date. A highlight of the programme was the build and flight of the UCLSat space weather CubeSat, UCL’s first CubeSat built in-house at UCL-MSSL.

CubeSat mission contributions include 9 Ion and Neutral Mass spectrometers built and flown on the QB50 mission and additional sensors to be flown on the CIRCE and DISCOVERER SOAR CubeSats. CubeSat mission studies include TwinSat, EXACT and most recently, GrailQuest, an ESA white paper for X-ray astronomy with a CubeSat constellation.

Teaching summary


Space Instrumentation and Applications SPCEG001 (MSc Space Science and Engineering), In-situ section


1-2 MSc. individual project supervision per year
5 PhD students


Saurashtra University, Rajkot
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1987
Elphinstone College, Mumbai
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1985


After completing his Masters degree at the Saurashtra University in the city of Rajkot in India in 1988, Dhiren Kataria started his research career at the Inter-University Accelerator Centre in New Delhi as a detector physicist. He subsequently spent 15 months at the Michigan State Universityin the USA where he built up expertise in the development of a variety of radiation detectors. On his return to New Delhi, he led the in-house detector development programme from 1990 to 1997 and was responsible for setting up the gas and scintillator detector development laboratory at the IUAC and for the development of a number of detection systems for accelerator based nuclear physics.

In 1997, Dhiren moved to the UK to join the Mullard Space Science Laboratory where he has since been involved with several instrumentation developments for space missions. He is currently Head of the In-situ Detection Systems group and is also the Programme Lead for MSSL’s CubeSat Research Programe. The group is currently developing instrumentation for the Electron Analyser System for ESA’s Solar Orbiter SWA instrument suite, the Light Ion Analyser instrument on the ESA-CAS SMILE mission, the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer for the DISCOVERER mission, the PEP instrument on ESA’s JUICE mission and a mass spectrometer for the GENESISS experiment, part of ESA’s exobiology facity.

Dhiren’s past mission involvements include Cluster II and the Chinese Double Star missions, contributions on NASA’s Cassini mission, the Asprea ELS instrument on ESA’s Mars and Venus Express missions, and the QB50 and TechDemoSat missions.