Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

2019 Rishbeth prize winners announced

We are pleased to announce that the Rishbeth Prizes this year are awarded to Affelia Wibisono and Michaela Mooney , both of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL).
Affelia Wibisono wins the prize for the best MIST student talk, entitled “Jupiter’s X-ray Aurorae as seen by XMM-Newton concurrently with Juno”. Michaela wins the best MIST poster prize, for a poster entitled “Evaluating auroral forecasts against satellite observations”.
MIST Council would like to congratulate both Affelia and Michaela. As prize winners, Affelia and Michaela have been invited to write articles for Astronomy & Geophysics, which we look forward to reading.

Call for MIST/GEM Liaisons

There is a potential opening for a member of the MIST community to act as a liaison with the GEM (Geospace Environment Modelling) group. This will be an opportunity to act as a representative of the UK MIST community and inform GEM about relevant activities within the MIST community.

GEM liaisons will typically have the following responsibilities:

  1. Attend​​ a preponderance ​​of ​​GEM Steering ​​Committee ​​meetings​ ​at ​​summer​ ​workshop and​ ​mini-GEM​ ​​(June​ ​and​ ​December)
  2. Provide​​ written​​ annual​​ report​​ to​​ GEM Communications ​​Coordinator​​​ (by ​​April)
  3. Help ​​recruit ​​new​ ​GEM Steering​ ​Committee ​​members ​​​(as ​​needed)
  4. Provide ​​feedback​​ from​​ the​​ MIST community ​​and​​ share​​ with the GEM Chair/Vice​ ​Chair​ ​​(ongoing)

At this stage we would like to welcome any expressions of interest for this role from the community. If you are interested in being a GEM Liaison, then please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. including up to 100 words detailing why you would like to be a liaison and how your experience equips you for this role, and how often you would be able to attend GEM meetings.

If you have any further questions or would like more information about what the role would entail then please get in touch!

ESA Voyager 2050

As was touched upon at the business lunch at NAM, ESA has launched the next in its series of milestones to shape long-term scientific planning, which is called Voyager 2050.
The next milestone in this process is a call for white papers, and this is outlined in detail here. In short, 20 page proposals are invited describing clear science questions and explaining how a space mission would address those questions. The deadline is 5 August 2019.
MIST Council hopes that members of the MIST community are planning to submit white papers to this call, and we would be very interested to hear from those who are planning to do this, or those who have already applied to be part of the Topical Teams also outlined in the call.

MIST Council election results

Following a call for nominations, Greg Hunt (Imperial College London) and Maria-Theresia Walach (Lancaster University) have been elected unopposed to MIST Council. We congratulate the two new MIST councillors!

We would also like to express our thanks and appreciation to both Ian McCrea and Sarah Badman who are leaving MIST Council, for their invaluable contributions and commitment to the MIST community.

UK Space Agency call for nominations for the position of Chair of the Science Programme Advisory Committee

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) is seeking a new Chair for the Science Programme Advisory Committee (SPAC). The position of Chair of the Science Programme Advisory Committee will become vacant on 1 July 2019.

The UK Space Agency welcomes applications from the UK space science community. The full position and person specifications are on the Government's website.


Guidelines for summer school organisers

Typically, a summer school will start Monday morning and end Friday lunchtime with an afternoon off during the week. This gives 16 slots of 1.5 hours each. We propose that, in each school, 12 of these are filled with a ‘core’ curriculum, not including a ‘careers’ element which should be included in the Advanced School. This will leave some flexibility for course organisers to present topical lectures perhaps reflecting their own group’s activities, have hands-on activities and schedule student talks.

STFC’s own guidance reads: “Courses or schools must be held in a core research activity supported by the STFC studentships programme (astronomy, solar system science, particle astrophysics, particle physics, nuclear physics) and must be aimed primarily at STFC-funded PhD students. Courses of a specialist technical nature will not be supported.” Our schools therefore fall within this remit.

The organisers of each school need to put in an application to STFC about a year before the summer school. We strongly recommend contacting the previous organizers for information and advice. Please note that funding is increasingly competitive and is not guaranteed.

All bids must be contained within three pages and provide the following information:

  • the dates and venue of the proposed course or school
  • justification for the course or school, in terms of its relevance to the STFC studentships
  • the number of STFC PhD students who would benefit from the course or school
  • a detailed breakdown of the budget requested;-details of the proposed lectures and

Bids are normally to be submitted as an e-mail attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by 1 October in the year before the summer school. The points of contact are Clare Heseltine and Susan Blackwell, and the relevant STFC contact page is here.

Suggested core lectures

Below are the suggested core lectures for each of the schools. Each lecture represents 1.5 hours with a small break in the middle.

Introductory Solar System Plasmas School (about 16 lectures in total)

  1. Introduction to Plasma Physics: gyration, drifts, plasma oscillations, EM waves in magnetised plasmas, elements of plasma kinetics.
  2. Introduction to MHD: MHD equations: applicability conditions, MHD equilibria, basic timescales and dimensionless parameters.
  3. Solar interior and helioseismology: Dynamo theory, differential rotation, global and local helio- seismology and its results.
  4. MHD Waves and Instabilities: Waves in uniform media, modes of a magnetic flux tube, basic macroscopic and microscopic instabilities.
  5. Magnetic reconnection: 2D reconnection (Petschek + Sweet-Parker), basic concepts of topology, diffusion regions and observational investigation.
  6. Introduction to the Solar Atmosphere: photosphere, chromosphere, TR, corona, heating, flares.
  7. CMEs, the Solar Wind and the Heliosphere: Basic solar wind models, basic structures, phenomenology of CMEs, MHD turbulence, heliopause.
  8. The Magnetosphere: basic topology, bow shock and magnetopause, magnetotail, plasmasphere, radiation belts, ring current, current systems, substorms and geomagnetic activity.
  9. The Ionosphere: formation and structure, ion-neutral coupling, vertical coupling, dynamics, energy dissipation, chemistry, auroral acceleration, conductivities and currents.
  10. The Mesosphere and Thermosphere
  11. Planetary plasma environments: giant planet magnetospheres, rapid rotation and M-I coupling, plasma transport, Dungey and Vasyliunas cycles, miniature and induced magnetospheres, comets.
  12. Solar variability and climate: solar irradiance effects, UV variability, stratospheric chemistry and dynamics, coupling to troposphere, effects of SEP and radiation belt particles, cosmic rays.

Advanced Solar-System Plasmas School (about 16 lectures in total)

  1. Overview of the Sun-Earth System and state-of-the-art observations: including quick overview of current missions and facilities
  2. Solar interior and helioseismology (more advanced topics)
  3. Dynamics of the Earth’s magnetosphere
  4. Split session: 
    1. Solar observations (UKSP students)
    2. Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere coupling and the aurora (MIST students)
  5. MHD and plasma waves: including coronal seismology
  6. MHD instabilities and reconnection
  7. Solar flares and activity
  8. CMEs, SEPs, solar wind and space weather
  9. Planetary magnetospheres: magnetic reconnection, upstream influences, ion pickup, Alfven wings, ionopause formation, induced tails, chemistry and coupling, plasma transport, stress balance
  10. Plasma turbulence
  11. Physics of particle acceleration
  12. Split session:
    1. Dynamo theory (UKSP students)
    2. Wave-particle interaction in the magnetosphere: including the radiation belt and ring current (MIST students)
  13. Career planning

Additional Lectures

In addition to the core content above, each School will have 3/4 slots to be decided by the host for extra topics, including hands-on/interactive activities, student presentations or posters (Advanced School only). As examples, such activities could include lectures focusing on specific techniques, facilities and models, data analysis or computing exercises, grant application tutorials, presentations on outreach and research impact or sessions focusing on the development of research skills. Organisers are recommended to consult MIST and UKSP Councils at an early stage in timetable preparation.

Selection of Lecturers

The primary requirement is of course that lecturers should be experts in the relevant field, who can present clear and interesting talks. Organisers should pay attention to balancing seniority and institutions of speakers, and especially to having an appropriate gender balance. In the interests of efficiency of lecture preparation, it may be helpful to “recycle” some (but not all) lecturers from previous schools to speak on the same topic. We also hope that all lecturers would be prepared to share their materials with successors.

Student feedback

Organisers are expected to collect feedback from students attending the Schools, a digest of which should be passed on to the organisers for the following year, as well as to UKSP and MIST Councils to aid future planning.