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.
 
Read more ...

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.

Rishbeth Prizes 2015

Congratulations to Maria Walach (Leicester) and Joe Dods (Warwick) for winning this year's Rishbeth prizes for their presentations at NAM/MIST at Llandudno in July.

Maria won the prize for the best student talk, which was "A test of ionospheric convection predictions from the expanding/contracting polar cap paradigm"

Joe won the prize for the best poster, for "Network Analysis of Geomagnetic Substorms Using the SuperMAG Database of Ground Based Magnetometer Stations".

Articles by both winners will appear shortly in A&G!

Jim Dungey 1923-2015

It is with sadness that we report the death of Prof. Jim Dungey last Thursday (7th May), at the age of 92.

Jim was, of course, a pillar of the MIST community and a regular at MIST meetings until quite recently. His intellectual achievements need no introduction to anyone familiar with our field. Below is a short appreciation by Prof. David Southwood:

Jim Dungey passed away last week. A light went out for me. I feel some echo of that must have been felt by everybody in the MIST community. He was an extraordinary scientist, someone out of the ordinary. His style was terse. In two pages in Physical Review Letters in 1961 he resolved the basis of solar-terrestrial interaction. He famously conceived it whilst stirring a coffee at a pavement café on Boulevard Montparnasse in Paris. Almost every sentence contains a nugget. Conversations with him could be as dense. I suspect that I am not the only one of his students for whom meetings during his PhD supervision were a matter of grasping clues and only later, often much later, appreciating the true import of what had been said. Indeed, in respect of his 1961 paper, it took the community as a whole almost 20 years to grasp the basic idea. The enormity of the 1961 paper's ultimate impact distracts from the number of other seeds he sowed: geomagnetic pulsations were standing MHD waves in the magnetosphere, Kelvin-Helmholtz instability could be important at the magnetopause, that the radiation belts had an external origin, that whistlers could determine the equilibrium of the belts, that magnetospheric MHD waves could be excited by bounce-drift resonance. I could continue and will, indeed, say more elsewhere. Moreover, he was a theorist but he welcomed any kind of experimental data, ground-based, space based and he also appreciated, long before I did, the interpretation of computer simulations. He was a MIST community member and a regular attendee at early meetings. His students and 'grand-students' are all around us. Everybody in the UK MIST community should feel the loss but, I hope, also a small pride that he was one of us.

RAS Awards 2015

Congratulations to Mike Lockwood, who has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society's Gold Medal in geophysics. The Gold Medal is the highest award in the society's gift, and is awarded as recognition of a lifetime's work. The society's announcement says:

Prof. Lockwood is one of the most eminent researchers today in space physics. He has made defining contributions in several different fields, from the ionosphere, via the magnetosphere and the heliosphere, to the Sun and its influence on the Earth's climate. Among the highlights of his broad career are his early discovery of a 'fountain' of ions populating the polar magnetosphere from the ionosphere. Thereafter, his novel analysis using ground-based radar combined with space-based particle measurements yielded new quantitative insights into magnetic reconnection at the magnetopause. This helped to illuminate how this most fundamental of plasma processes operates.

His most recent work has focused on the impact of the variable solar output on the heliosphere and the Earth's climate, including founding a new field of study of the long-term variability of the Sun's magnetic field. Quite remarkable is the fact that this now vibrant research area arose from Prof. Lockwood's very first paper in solar physics, reporting that the Sun's coronal magnetic has doubled in the last 100 years. Throughout his career, Prof. Lockwood has provided novel and far-reaching insights that have subsequently become accepted paradigms, and paved the way for further study.

Sincere congratulations are also due to our colleague in the UK Solar Physics community, Alan Hood, who has been awarded the RAS's Chapman medal for investigations of outstanding merit in solar-terrestrial physics.

Further information about all of this year's medal and award winners is available on the Royal Astronomical Society's web site.

BIS Capital Investment Consultation Exercise

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a consultation exercise on "Proposals for
Long-Term Capital Investment in Science & Research".  Anyone is welcome to contribute to the consultation exercise at an individual level and coordinated responses are being created from various organisations including MIST via MIST council and the SSAP (Solar Systems Advisory Panel from STFC).

You can see the documentation here:

BIS consultation document

You can put in your response here:

Respond to BIS consultation

The consultation closes on 4th July 2014.