UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics


Planetary Science

A leading research group studying the planets, moons, and small bodies of our Solar System.

Saturn's moon Dione

The Planetary Science Group at MSSL is a leading research group studying planetary bodies and systems across the Solar System. Our science themes include planetary magnetospheres, moon interactions, surfaces and comets. We produce scientific instruments for international space exploration missions, such as the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, and then analyse the information which comes back from those instruments. We are analysing data from some of the Solar System's most interesting scientific targets, including Saturn and its moons Titan, Enceladus and Rhea, Mars, Venus and comets. The group is also heavily involved in future missions to Mars, a comet, Jupiter, and other Solar System bodies. Previous missions include the Giotto mission to comets Halley and Grigg-Skjellerup. We work closely with the MSSL Space Plasma Physics and Imaging groups and the UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy, and are part of the Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck.

Comet McNaught over the Pacific Ocean. Image taken from Paranal Observatory in January 2007.Credits: ESO/Sebastian Deiries

Planetary Science Research

Our research covers several fields, including comets, giant planet magnetospheres and moons, and the surface of Mars.

Artist's impression of Cassini-Huygens. Credit: ESA/NASA

Missions / Projects

MSSL is involved in a number of previous, current and future missions to the planets in our solar system, including the Cassini mission to Saturn and the upcoming JUICE mission to Jupiter.

Photograph of the CAPS flight model prior to delivery to the Cassini spacecraft.  From: Young et al. (2004)

Planetary Science Instruments

Instruments built at MSSL have taken in-situ observations of the plasma around comets, Venus, Mars and Saturn.


Planetary Science Publications

Find out more about our recent research through our Publications

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Comet Trails:
Call for Comet Tail Images
Tailcatcher Service
Solar Windsocks Service

Introduction to Planetary Science:
What is Planetary Science?
Seminar Series

Head of Planetary Science:
Prof. Geraint Jones
+44 1483 204 263