MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

2019 RAS Council elections

As you may have seen, the nominations for RAS Council are currently open with a deadline of 29 November. MIST falls under the “G” (Geophysics) category and there are up to 3 councillor positions and one vice-president position available. MIST Council strongly encourages interested members of the MIST community to consider standing for election.
 
Clare Watt (University of Reading) has kindly volunteered to be a point of contact for the community for those who may wish to talk more about being on council and what it involves. Clare is a councillor on RAS Council, with her term due to complete in 2020, and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 

 

Outcome of SSAP priority project review

From the MIST mailing list:

We are writing to convey the outcome of this year’s priority project “light touch” review, specifically with reference to those projects within the remit of SSAP. We would like to thank all the PIs that originally submitted ideas, and those who provided updates to their projects over the summer. SSAP strongly believe that all the projects submitted are underpinned by strong scientific drivers in the SSAP area.

The “light touch” review was undertaken with a unified approach by SSAP and AAP, considering factors that have led to priority project development (in STFC or other research councils) or new funding for priority projects (1/51 projects in the STFC remit) in the last 12 months. After careful discussion, it was agreed by SSAP and AAP not to select any project where the remit clearly overlaps with UKSA (i.e. space missions or TRL 4+), reflecting STFC’s focus on ground-based observations, science exploitation and TRL 0-3 development. Whilst in no way reflecting the excellence of the science, or community scientific wishes, this approach has resulted in some changes to the list of SSAP priority projects. However, now, unlike at the time of the original call, it is clear that such projects cannot move forwards without UKSA (financial) support, and such funds are already committed according to UKSA’s existing programme. SSAP remain strongly supportive of mission-led science in solar-system exploration, so SSAP have strongly recommended that the high-level discussions between UKSA and STFC continue with a view to supporting a clear joint priority projects call in future, more naturally suited to mission and bi-lateral opportunities.

The priority projects (and PIs) identified by SSAP for 2019/20 are:

  • Solar Atmospheric Modelling Suite (Tony Arber)
  • LARES1: Laboratory Analysis for Research into Extra-terrestrial Samples (Monica Grady)
  • EST: European Solar Telescope (Sarah Matthews)

SSAP requested STFC continue to work with all three projects to expand their community reach and continue to develop the business cases for future (new) funding opportunities. In addition, SSAP have requested that STFC explore ways in which the concept of two projects—“ViCE: Virtual Centres of Excellence Programme / MSEMM Maximising Science Exploitation from Space Science Missions”—can be combined and, with community involvement, generate new funding for science exploitation and maximising scientific return in solar-system sciences. Initially this consultation will occur between SSAP and STFC.

We would like to thank the community again for its strong support, and rapid responses on very short timescales. A further “light touch” review will occur in 2020, with a new call for projects anticipated in 2021. SSAP continue to appreciate the unfamiliar approach a “call for proposals with no funding attached” causes to the community and are continuing to stress to STFC that the community would appreciate clearer guidance and longer timescales in future priority project calls.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Helen Fraser on behalf of SSAP

The Global Network for the Sustainability In Space (GNOSIS)

The Global Network for the Sustainability In Space (GNOSIS) is an STFC Network+ with the goal of helping researchers within the Particle, Nuclear and Astrophysics areas to engage with researchers from other research councils and industry to study the near Earth space environment. For more details, visit the GNOSIS website or see this issue of the GNOSIS newsletter.

Over the next few years we expect a large increase in the number of satellites in Earth orbit. This will lead to unprecedented levels of space traffic much of which will end as debris. The aim of this network is to understand the debris populations and its impact on space traffic management with a view to enabling a safer environment.

The free GNOSIS lunch event will be held on 18 November 2019 at the British Interplanetary Society at Vauxhall, London, with a video link to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, to facilitate participation from across the UK. Tickets can be obtained here.

GNOSIS will be producing a programme of meetings for both space operations specialists and subject matter novices and will be able to support the development of collaborative ideas through project and part graduate student funding. Details of our first workshop will be announced in the next month.

If you are an academic with no direct experience but have knowledge of areas such as observations, data analysis, simulation or even law, then register your interest on our website. If you are a currently working in the space sector or if you are just interested in the aims and goals of the network please also register your interest and get involved.

SWIMMR: A £19.9M programme of the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund

Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk (SWIMMR) is a £19.9M programme of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund.

MIST would like draw the attention of the research community to the potential opportunities which will become available as a result of this programme, which received final approval from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in August. The programme will run from now until March 2023 and is aimed at improving the UK’s capabilities for space weather monitoring and prediction. UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund provides a means for linking research council investment to governmental research priorities, hence the areas being emphasised in the programme reflect space weather threats to critical infrastructure, as reflected in the UK national risk register.

The programme will be delivered jointly by the STFC and NERC, mainly through open grant calls, but including some elements of commissioned work to be delivered through open competitive tenders. The first calls are expected to appear during the coming weeks. More information about the programme is available through the RAL Space website, and is forthcoming from the NERC web site.

To mark the official launch of the programme and provide more details of the planned activities, a kick-off meeting is being held in the Wolfson Library of the Royal Society on Tuesday 26 November 2019, from 10:30. Pre-registration is required for this event and can be done using this link. We hope that many of you will be able to attend.

Representing the MIST Community in award nominations

MIST Council has recently launched an effort to create an award nominations task force with the following aims:

  1. Actively contribute towards more equal representation and a diverse range of nominees for awards
  2. Recognise and promote the work of overlooked members of the community
  3. Provide a means for students and ECRs to gain experience in preparing an effective nomination package

The initial plan is to start by considering those awards given out by the Royal Astronomical Society. This is so there will be sufficient time to prepare nomination packages by the RAS deadline (July 2020), and the wide range of awards will allow us to consider the entire MIST community. The task force is spearheaded by Oliver Allanson, Jasmine Sandhu, and Maria-Theresia Walach.

This task force is inspired by Liz MacDonald, a heliophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Liz Macdonald organized the Nomination Task Force within AGU’s Space Physics and Aeronomy (SPA) section, which has been summarised in an article in Eos. We plan to work in a manner similar to that described in the article, as we believe that by having a community task force we will be able to achieve community-wide representation in a timely manner.

If you would like to be part of the task force then please sign-up using our Google Form by Friday 4th October. At this stage we are not soliciting for specific ideas for nominees. Instead we are seeking to gauge support and receive feedback. We would like to emphasise that all members of the MIST community are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to sign-up to to join this task force, from PhD student to Emeritus Professor.

Public Engagement

If you work on a public engagement project which is not listed here, please contact us with a short abstract, any web links, and who is working on it, and we'll include it in the list! We would also recommend putting your project on the Royal Astronomical Society's Outreach Map.

AuroraWatch UK

AuroraWatch UK offers free alerts of when the northern lights, or aurora borealis, can be seen from the UK. Alerts are issued based on real-time data from AuroraWatch UK and citizen science instruments, called magnetometers, that measure geomagnetic activity associated with the aurora. With well over 100,000 subscribers this incredibly popular service also engages its subscribers about the science behind the aurora and space weather. AuroraWatch UK is run by Lancaster University, who are very active in the media, frequently appearing on TV and radio and being quoted in national newspaper articles. They also run wide-ranging outreach events about the aurora and other planets in our solar system. For more details, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Elastic Band Magnetosphere

Created for the Aurora Explorer exhibit at the 2011 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, this interactive demonstrates some of the dynamics of Earth’s magnetosphere such as magnetopause motion, tail reconnection and ULF waves by using brightly coloured elastic bands / bungee cords. The exhibit was created by Imperial College London, and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

MUSICS

MUSICS (Magnetospheric Undulations Sonified Incorporating Citizen Scientists) enables school students to collaboratively experience and contribute to space weather research in 6-month long projects. They explore ultra-low frequency satellite wave data of Earth’s magnetic shield by listening to it and using audio software. Unexpected science results have been found such as long-lasting decreasing-frequency poloidal waves following geomagnetic storms. The audio and tools for using it are now publicly available via NOAA and thus can be adopted by any MIST researchers in their work with schools or the public. For more details, contact Martin Archer.

Planeterrella

The planeterrella is an update of a century-old experiment by a Norwegian scientist named Kristian Birkeland and is very visually beautiful. There are planeterrellas at the University of Leicester and the University of Southampton, based on designs developed in France by Jean Lilensten. The planeterrella has appeared on QI, and also appears at schools and festivals around the UK. For more details, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Raspberry Pi School Magnetometer project

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. helps run the Raspberry Pi School Magnetometer project at the British Geological Survey. The magnetometer is a very sensitive instrument which allows schools to make measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field, in particular to sense the aurora during geomagnetic storms. The project is jointly run with Lancaster University. Around ten schools in the UK have been involved in the project since 2015.

SMILE

SMILE is a joint mission by the European Space Agency and Chinese Academy of Sciences, and is due for launch in late 2023. The SMILE satellite will have a highly-inclined orbit with apogee at about 19 RE.  SMILE will have an X-ray imager to  to monitor the magnetopause, and a UV imager, to observe the northern hemisphere ionosphere.  An in situ light ion analyser and a magnetometer complete the instrument suite. We are running a long-term project with a set of schools, so that they can follow the SMILE mission through the design, build, testing, launch, and science operations of the mission. We are extending this programme to community and adult education groups. For more details, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sounds of Space

Our planet naturally produces a variety of radio emissions, generated by lightning activity and geomagnetic storms driven by the Sun. These natural radio waves are at the lower end of the radio spectrum in the audio-frequency range. These electromagnetic waves cannot be heard directly, but they can be converted into audio files and played back as sound. This process reveals a series of weird and wonderful noises, known as the ‘sounds of space’, and it's a bit like entering the film set of a 1960s sci-fi movie. We are working with artists and audio engineers to exploit these amazing natural ‘sounds’ and make them more accessible to wider audiences. The ‘sounds’ have been used in performances that fuse art and science, short films, music and even a world-renowned space simulation game. You can find out more about these exciting projects here, or by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SSFX

SSFX (Space Sound Effects), in partnership with several film industry organisations, challenged independent filmmakers to incorporate the usually inaudible sounds from space into short films in creative ways. Seven films were selected and were screened at bespoke events as well as infiltrating 16 existing film festivals and over 500 events across 8 countries. The diverse audiences reached typically wouldn’t attend science events. An anthology film containing the shorts and a framing story narratively depicting the effects of space weather is now online. Contact Martin Archer for access to any of the films in a variety of formats for use at your events.