MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher (PEER) Forum

The STFC has issued a call for applications to join their Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher (PEER) Forum, which is designed to support talented scientists and engineers in the early stages of their career in developing their public engagement and outreach goals. This forum is geared towards PhD students and early-career postdocs developing ideas for public engagement with similarly-minded researchers in a context that allows them to feed suggestions for the improvement of STFC's programmes back to STFC itself, and involves meeting twice a year. The deadline for applications is 4pm on 3 June 2019. For more information and more detail on what the scheme involves, you can visit the PEER Forum webpage or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The aims of the PEER Forum are as follows:

  • To foster peer learning and peer support between early career scientists and engineers with a passion for public engagement and outreach.
  • To improve understanding of the support STFC provides for public engagement and outreach (including funding mechanisms, evaluation, and reporting) and how to successfully utilise this support.
  • To stimulate discussions that help to develop and influence STFC’s approaches to public engagement.

ESA Science Programme Committee greenlights SMILE

The Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) has been given the green light for implementation by ESA's Science Programme Committee. SMILE will explore the Sun-Earth connection in a very novel way, by mapping solar wind-magnetosphere interactions in soft X-rays. SMILE is a joint mission by ESA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CSA). The UK is one of many countries contributing to the payload development.

The SMILE payload comprises four instruments: a soft X-ray imager (SXI), a UV auroral imager (UVI) and an in situ measurement package composed of a light ion analyser and a magnetometer. The UK leads SXI, Canada leads UVI, and China leads the ion analyser and magnetometer. SMILE will fly in a highly elliptical polar orbit with an apogee of 20 Earth radii to image the magnetosphere and the Northern Lights for more than 40 hours continuously per orbit. The launch is planned in November 2023.

For more information, visit the European Space Agency, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, or Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

Debye mission proposal for ESA F-class call

We are currently preparing a proposal for the space mission “Debye” in response to ESA’s F-Class call. As the first dedicated electron-astrophysics mission, Debye will use the solar wind as a testbed to study universal small-scale electron processes throughout the universe. The mission's key science question is: “How are electrons heated in astrophysical plasmas?”
 
Debye will consist of up to four spacecraft that will orbit the Lagrange point L2. The main spacecraft will measure electron distribution functions with unprecedented cadence and very high resolution, electric fields, magnetic fields, and plasma ions. The deployable spacecraft will provide multi-point and multi-baseline measurements of the magnetic field to determine the nature of fluctuations on electron scales.
 
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RAS Specialist Discussion suggestions invited

The RAS is inviting suggestions from Fellows of the RAS for Specialist Discussion meeting topics in the academic year 2019/20. These meetings are held on the second Friday of the month between October and May in a given academic year; the April meeting will be moved due to the second Friday being Good Friday. 

If you would like to organise one of these meetings, you can do so by submitting a proposal no longer than one A4 page. Geophysics proposals, including MIST science, should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and the deadline is 1 March 2019.

Your proposal should include the title of the meeting; the names of the co-convenors (at least one of whom should be a RAS Fellow); the topics you intend to cover; the rationale (including timeliness); suggestions for invited speakers; and the preferred date for the meeting. More information, including detailed guidance, can be found on the RAS website.

 

RAS awards for 2019 announced

MIST Council would like to extend their congratulations to the 2019 Royal Astronomical Society award winners, as well as the recent AGU award winners. In particular, we congratulate the following MIST members recognised for their significant achievements:
  • Margaret Kivelson (UCLA) has been awarded the Gold Medal in Geophysics for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in understanding planetary magnetospheres and their connections to the planets they surround.
  • Tom Stallard (Leicester) has been awarded the Chapman medal in Geophysics for outstanding contributions to understanding planetary upper atmospheres and their interactions with their magnetospheres.
  • The Cluster Science and Operations Team have been awarded the Geophysics Group Award for their continued success ensuring the operations and scientific exploitation of the European Space Agency’s Cluster mission.
  • Mark Clilverd (British Antarctic Survey) has been awarded the James Dungey Lecture for their excellent research on energetic particle precipitation and its effects on the upper atmosphere and climate, and their vast experience delivering outstanding scientific talks to a broad range of audiences.
  • Julia Stawarz (Imperial College London) has been awarded the Basu United States Early Career Award for Research Excellence in Sun-Earth Systems Science for significant contributions in furthering understanding of collisional plasma turbulence and kinetic scale processes. 
MIST Council would also like to congratulate Fran Bagenal (Colorado), who has been awarded the AGU Van Allen Lecture for exceptional work on the understanding of planetary magnetospheres and outstanding contributions to planetary missions.

Autumn MIST 2018

Autumn MIST will be held at the Geological Society (opposite the Royal Astronomical Society) at Burlington House, in London, on Friday 30 November 2018. The meeting will commence at 10:30 (with registration beginning at 09:30) and will include a poster session, lightning talks, and oral sessions. The registration fee will be £20, and we can only accept on-the-door payments in cash. Tea and coffee will be provided during the poster session.

The programme and abstracts for the conference can be downloaded at those links, and if you have feedback on the conference, you can submit it using this Google Form.

RAS discussion meeting on planetary astronomy with H3+

An RAS Specialist Discussion meeting entitled "30 Years of Planetary Astronomy with H3+" will be held on 14 December 2018 at the Royal Astronomical Society at Burlington House. This meeting is co-convened by Steve Miller (UCL) and Nick Achilleos (UCL).

Confirmed speakers include the co-convenors, alongside Sarah Badman (Lancaster), Marina Galand (ICSTM), Jean-Pierre Maillard (Observatoire de Paris), Henrik Melin (Leicester), Renee Prange (LESIA), Licia Ray (Lancaster) and Tom Stallard (Leicester). Talk and poster abstracts are welcome, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The RAS listing for the meeting is available here and the meeting abstract is as follows:

2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the serendipitous discovery of the H3+ molecular ion in Jupiter’s northern aurora. The discovery itself was the result of an impromptu collaboration between astronomical observers, telescope instrument builders, laboratory spectroscopists and molecular physicists. H3+ emission has subsequently been detected from Saturn and Uranus, of the Solar System’s giant planets, but not Neptune. As an energetic and reactive molecular ion, H3+ is now used as a tracer for energy inputs, via particle precipitation, into giant planets’ atmospheres from their enormous magnetospheres: variations in emission levels are used to monitor both shorter-term magnetospheric dynamics, caused by changes in internal (plasma density) and external (solar wind dynamic pressure) factors, and longer-term changes that may result from the solar cycle and seasonal changes in solar irradiation. The final results from Cassini – particularly the VIMS instrument – and new measurements from JUNO mean that there is a wealth of data to add to and complement that being generated from ground-based observations. All-in-all, there is a wealth of material to review and huge current interest in just how this simple molecular ion behaves and what it tells us about planets in our Solar System and beyond.

 
 

Details of MIST-related STFC summer schools in 2018

Details are now available regarding this year's STFC summer schools. With these summer schools, STFC-funded and self-funded PhD students are typically able to register for a fully-funded place, whereas other prospective attendees (e.g. NERC-funded PhD students or PDRAs) must pay a registration fee. This year, three summer schools are being run by the STFC which have been advertised to the MIST mailing list.

Introductory Solar System Plasmas Summer School

The STFC Introductory Solar System Plasmas Summer School 2018 will be run from 27–31 August 2018 at the University of Exeter. Registration is open until 15 July 2018, and if you wish to register or find out more, you can do so through the summer school's website.

The 2018 STFC Introductory Solar System Plasmas Summer School will be hosted by the Centre for Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics, Department of Mathematics at the University of Exeter. The School programme consists of Core Material and more Specialised Topics reflecting local Exeter activities (e.g. specialist lecture on space weather forecasting from the Met Office). It is suitable for incoming PhD students.

The two contacts for the introductory summer school are the course director, Dr. Claire Foullon, and the secretariat, Dr. Emma Clarke. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Advanced Solar System Plasma Physics Summer School

The Advanced Solar System Plasma Physics Summer School will be held at the University of Southampton from 9–14 September 2018. Registration and more details are, again, available through the summer school's website. Registration is available until 29 June for fully-funded attendees, and until 24 August for those who pay the registration fee.

It is a pleasure to announce that the 2018 STFC Advanced Summer School covering Solar System Plasma Physics will be held at the University of Southampton from Sunday 9 to Friday 14 September 2018. The school is ideally suited to second and third year PhD students, as it will build on the topics covered at previous years’ introductory schools.

The contact for the advanced summer school is the course director, Dr. Robert Fear. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

STFC Introductory Summer School for Research Computing

The STFC Introductory Summer School for Research Computing in Solar Physics and Astronomy will be held at the E. A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Hull from 2–7 September 2018. The programme is available on the E. A. Milne Centre's website and registration is being conducted through a Google Form until 13 July 2018.
 
The Summer School is aimed at (but not restricted to) PhD students in astrophysics and solar physics. We will use the Python language, which is fast becoming the de facto standard in scientific computing, particularly in astronomy and space physics. Python’s simple, readable syntax and thriving developer community make it an excellent choice of first language for beginners. However, the principles we will be teaching are language-agnostic and will give the students a good understanding of how to develop and maintain high-quality software in any language. This summer school will consist mostly of practical sessions, allowing the students to quickly put into use the concepts they are being taught. This will be combined with a number of invited talks and specialist sessions. Aside from the taught programme there will be plenty of opportunities for networking and socialising with other students and lecturers with an ice breaker event (Sunday) and conference dinner (Thursday), and an excursion.
 
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Brian Anderson to speak at workshop on Joule heating

Brian Anderson has been announced at a one-day workshop, “System-Scale Data Analysis to Resolve Thermospheric Joule Heating”, which will be held at the British Antarctic Survey (Cambridge, UK) on Friday 27 April 2018. The abstract submission deadline for this meeting is Monday 19 March and registrations will close the week of the meeting, on Monday 23 April.

If you're interested in registering, you can do so by visiting the conference page on Eventbrite – postgraduate students are encouraged to apply for financial assistance to apply, as some money has been provided by the Royal Astronomical Society for this purpose. If you would like to submit an abstract, you can do so through the dedicated abstract submission form provided.

The aim of this workshop is to give a forum for discussing of the interdisciplinary utility of data-driven analytical techniques, and the best ways to harness the potential of the available large datasets which are driving advances in near-Earth space research. The specific focus of the workshop is on the intrinsically interdisciplinary problem of resolving Joule heating – the transfer of energy from electrical currents in the ionosphere to the neutral particles of the upper atmosphere.

The meeting is convened by Robert Shore (who is also the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at the British Antarctic Survey, alongside Anasuya Aruliah, John Coxon and Elizabeth Tindale.

Test MIST Special programme announced

The programme for the upcoming Spring MIST meeting in Southampton has been announced, and can be found on the Spring MIST website.

Each slot of 18 minutes, which comprises a 15 minute presentation and 3 minutes for questions. Posters will be A0, but the orientation has not yet been confirmed. The abstract book will be available online in the near future and will also be provided on a USB stick at the conference.

The meeting's chair, Rob Fear, wrote on the MIST mailing list, “For those of you wondering about the subject line to this email, the name of this year’s spring meeting makes reference to two things. Firstly, following the tradition of naming the spring meeting after local geographical features, it refers to one of our local rivers, the Test, which is one of the main tributaries of Southampton Water. The ‘special’ honours the fact that 2018 is MIST’s 50th anniversary year. Any similarity to low frequency emissions on 198 kHz is purely coincidental!”