Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

Charter amendment and MIST Council elections open

Nominations for MIST Council open today and run through to 8 August 2021! Please feel free to put yourself forward for election – the voting will open shortly after the deadline and run through to the end of August. The positions available are:

  • 2 members of MIST Council
  • 1 student representative (pending the amendment below passing)

Please email nominations to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 8 August 2021. Thank you!

Charter amendment

We also move to amend the following articles of the MIST Charter as demonstrated below. Bold type indicates additions and struck text indicates deletions. Please respond to the email on the MIST mailing list before 8 August 2021 if you would like to object to the amendment; MIST Charter provides that it will pass if less than 10% of the mailing list opposes its passing. 

4.1  MIST council is the collective term for the officers of MIST and consists of six individuals and one student representative from the MIST community.

5.1 Members of MIST council serve terms of three years, except for the student representative who serves a term of one year.

5.2 Elections will be announced at the Spring MIST meeting and voting must begin within two months of the Spring MIST meeting. Two slots on MIST council will be open in a given normal election year, alongside the student representative.

5.10 Candidates for student representative must not have submitted their PhD thesis at the time that nominations close.

SSAP roadmap update

The STFC Solar System Advisory Panel (SSAP) is undertaking a review of the "Roadmap for Solar System Research", to be presented to STFC Science Board later this year. This is expected to be a substantial update of the Roadmap, as the last full review was carried out in 2012, with a light-touch update in 2015.

The current version of the SSAP Roadmap can be found here.

In carrying out this review, we will take into account changes in the international landscape, and advances in instrumentation, technology, theory, and modelling work. 

As such, we solicit your input and comments on the existing roadmap and any material we should consider in this revision. This consultation will close on Wednesday 14 July 2021 and SSAP will try to give a preliminary assessment of findings at NAM.

This consultation is seeking the view of all members of our community and we particularly encourage early career researchers to respond. Specifically, we invite:

Comments and input on the current "Roadmap for Solar System Research" via the survey by clicking here.

Short "white papers" on science investigations (including space missions, ground-based experimental facilities, or computing infrastructure) and impact and knowledge exchange (e.g. societal and community impact, technology development). Please use the pro-forma sent to the MIST mailing list and send your response to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Quo vadis interim board


A white paper called "Quo vadis, European space weather community" has been published in J. Space Weather Space Clim. which outlines plans for the creation of an organisation to represent the European space weather community.
Since it was published, an online event of the same name was organised on 17 March 2021. A “Quo Vadis Interim Board” was then set up, to establish a mechanism for this discussion, which will go on until June 21st.

The Interim Board is composed of volunteers from the community in Europe. Its role is to coordinate the efforts so that the space weather (and including space climate) European community can:

  1. Organise itself
  2. Elect people to represent them

To reach this goal, the Interim Board is inviting anyone interested in and outside Europe to join the “Quo Vadis European Space Weather Community ” discussion forum.

Eligible European Space Weather Community members should register to the “Electoral Census” to be able to vote in June for the final choice of organisation.

This effort will be achieved through different actions indicated on the Quo Vadis webpage and special Slack workspace.

Call for applications for STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum


The STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum (the ‘PEER Forum’) will support talented scientists and engineers in the early stages of their career to develop their public engagement and outreach goals, to ensure the next generation of STFC scientists and engineers continue to deliver the highest quality of purposeful, audience-driven public engagement.

Applications are being taken until 4pm on 3 June 2021. If you would like to apply, visit the PEER Forum website, and if you have queries This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The PEER Forum aims:

  • To foster peer learning and support between early career scientists and engineers with similar passion for public engagement and outreach, thus developing a peer support network that goes beyond an individual’s term in the forum 
  • To foster a better knowledge and understanding of the support mechanisms available from STFC and other organisations, including funding mechanisms, evaluation, and reporting. As well as how to successfully access and utilise this support 
  • To explore the realities of delivering and leading public engagement as an early career professional and build an evidence base to inform and influence STFC and by extension UKRI’s approaches to public engagement, giving an effective voice to early career researchers

What will participation in the Forum involve?

Participants in the PEER Forum will meet face-to-face at least twice per year to share learning and to participate in session that will strengthen the depth and breadth of their understanding of public engagement and outreach.

Who can apply to join the Forum?

The PEER Forum is for practising early-career scientists and engineers who have passion and ambition for carrying out excellent public engagement alongside, and complementary to, their career in science or engineering. We are seeking Forum members from across the breadth of STFC’s pure and applied science and technology remit.

The specific personal requirements of PEER Forum membership are that members:

  • Have completed (or currently studying for – including apprentices and PhD students) their highest level of academic qualification within the last ten years (not including any career breaks)
  • Are employed at a Higher Education Institute, or a research-intensive Public Sector Research Organisation or Research Laboratory (including STFC’s own national laboratories)
  • Work within a science and technology field in STFC’s remit, or with a strong inter-disciplinary connection to STFC’s remit, or use an STFC facility to enable their own research
  • Clearly describe their track record of experience in their field, corresponding to the length of their career to date
  • Clearly describe their track record of delivering and leading, or seeking the opportunity to lead, public engagement and/or outreach
  • Can provide insight into their experiences in public engagement and/or outreach and also evidence one or more of
  • Inspiring others
  • Delivering impact
  • Demonstrating creativity
  • Introducing transformative ideas and/or inventions
  • Building and sustaining collaborations/networks
  • Are keen communicators with a willingness to contribute to the success of a UK-wide network
  • https://stfc.ukri.org/public-engagement/training-and-support/peer-forum/  

    Astronet Science Vision & Infrastructure Roadmap


    Astronet is a consortium of European funding agencies, established for the purpose of providing advice on long-term planning and development of European Astronomy. Setup in 2005, its members include most of the major European astronomy nations, with associated links to the European Space Agency, the European Southern Observatory, SKA, and the European Astronomical Society, among others. The purpose of the Science Vision and Infrastructure Roadmap is to deliver a coordinated vision covering the entire breadth of astronomical research, from the origin and early development of the Universe to our own solar system.

    The first European Science Vision and Infrastructure Roadmap for Astronomy was created by Astronet, using EU funds, in 2008/09, and updated in 2014/15. Astronet is now developing a new Science Vision & Infrastructure Roadmap, in a single document with an outlook for the next 20 years. A delivery date to European funding agencies of mid-2021 is anticipated. 

    The Science Vision and Infrastructure Roadmap revolves around the research themes listed below:

    • Origin and evolution of the Universe
    • Formation and evolution of galaxies
    • Formation & evolution of stars
    • Formation & evolution of planetary systems
    • Understanding the solar system and conditions for life

    but will include cross-cutting aspects such as computing and training and sustainability.


    After some delays due to the global pandemic, the first drafts of the chapters for the document are now available from the Panels asked to draft them, for you to view and comment on. For the Science Vision & Roadmap to be truly representative it is essential we take account of the views of as much of the European astronomy and space science community as possible – so your input is really valued by the Panels and Astronet. Please leave any comments, feedback or questions on the site by 1 May 2021.

    It is intended that a virtual “town hall” style event will be held in late Spring 2021, where an update on the project and responses to the feedback will be provided.

    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.