MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

2020 Space Census

MIST members are invited to submit to the 2020 Space Census!

The 2020 Space Census is the first national survey of the UK space workforce. It is a 5-10 minute anonymous online demographic survey of individuals for anyone working in the UK space sector in any capacity. The results will be used to improve what it’s like to work in the sector, to tackle discrimination, and to make the sector more attractive to new recruits.

More information about the Census, along with answers to commonly asked questions, can be found here.

The UK Space Agency’s press release about the Census can be found here.

STFC Policy Internship Scheme now open

This year has proved the critical importance of science having a voice within Parliament. But how does scientific evidence come to the attention of policy makers? If you are a STFC-funded PhD student, you can experience this first-hand through our Policy Internship Scheme, which has just opened for applications for 2020/21. During these three-month placements, students are hosted either at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) or the Government Office for Science (GO Science).

POST is an independent office of the Houses of Parliament which provides impartial evidence reviews on topical scientific issues to MPs and Peers. Interns at POST will research, draft, edit and publish a briefing paper summarising the evidence base on an important or emerging scientific issue. GO Science works to ensure that Government policies and decisions are informed by the best scientific evidence and strategic long-term thinking. Placements at GO Science are likely to involve undertaking research, drafting briefing notes and background papers, and organising workshops and meetings.

The scheme offers a unique opportunity to experience the heart of UK policy making and to explore careers within the science-policy interface. The placements are fully funded and successful applicants will receive a three-month extension to their final PhD deadline.

For full information and to see case studies of previous interns, please see our website. The closing date is 10 September 2020 at 16.00.

Applied Sciences special issue: Dynamical processes in space plasmas

 

Applied Sciences is to publish a special issue on the topic of dynamical processes in space plasmas which is being guest edited by Georgious Nicolaou. Submissions are welcome until 31 March 2021, and submission instructions for authors can be found on the journal website. For general questions, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

MIST elections in 2020

The election for the next MIST councillors opens today, and will run until 23:59 on 31 July 2020. The candidates are Michaela Mooney, Matt Owens, and Jasmine Kaur Sandhu. 

If you are subscribed to this mailing list you should receive a bespoke link which will let you vote on the MIST website, which will be sent by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you don’t receive this link, please check your junk folder! The candidates’ platforms are on the voting platform, and also reproduced below for your convenience. 

Michaela Mooney

I’m a final year PhD student at MSSL standing for MIST Council as a student representative. During my PhD, I’ve been actively engaged in the department as a Student Rep in the Staff Student Consultation Committee and in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. I’m an active member of the MIST research community through proposals for RAS Discussion meetings and NAM sessions on geomagnetic activity. 

My main goals as a MIST Council representative would be to:

  • lobby funding bodies to reduce the impact of the pandemic on PhD students.
  • facilitate the organisation of virtual conferences and careers days to ensure that students continue to have opportunities to present research and access to careers information.
  • support good practises in equality, diversity and inclusion within the MIST community.

My key priority would be to limit the impact of the pandemic on students and ensure equality of opportunities.

Matt Owens

Now, more than ever, it’s vital our community address its diversity problems. If anyone is standing for MIST council from an underrepresented demographic, I’d encourage you to vote for them; MIST needs their experience and insight. If not, I’ll seek to ensure MIST council continues to promote equality of opportunity and diversity in science.

MIST’s primary role is to represent our solar-terrestrial science within the wider discipline. I’m predominantly a heliospheric scientist, but keep a toe in the solar physics community. E.g., I’ve served in editorial capacities for both JGR and Solar Physics, and have a good deal of experience with both NERC and STFC funding. As such, I’d hope to see MIST working closely with UKSP, as we have a lot of common interest. I am also keen that the MIST community coordinate to make the most of the industrial and operational forecasting opportunities that are open to it. Finally, I’m a very recent convert to open science. I would seek to increase the prevalence of research code publication and use of community tools within our field, for reasons of both efficiency and reproducibility.

Jasmine Kaur Sandhu

I am a post-doctoral research associate at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL, with a research focus on inner magnetospheric physics. During my time as a Council member I have led a number of initiatives, primarily the MIST Student’s Corner, the MIST Nugget Series, and the MIST online seminar series. If elected, I will continue to focus on supporting early career researchers in ways that promote diversity of both science and the scientists within our community. This will include developing a set of up-to-date, comprehensive, and informative resources on funding opportunities available to early career researchers for travel funding and fellowships. This will be supported by a mentor-like scheme for assistance and guidance on applications.

A Summary of the SWIMMR Kick-Off Meeting

The kick-off event for the Space Weather Innovation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk Study (one of the Wave 2 programmes of the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund) took place in the Wolfson Library of the Royal Society on Tuesday November 26th. Seventy-five people attended the event, representing a range of academic institutions, as well as representatives from industry, government and public sector research establishments such as the UK Met Office. 

The morning session of the meeting consisted of five presentations, introducing the programme and its relevance to government, the Research Councils and the Met Office, as well as describing details of the potential calls. The presentations were as follows:

  •  Prof John Loughhead (Chief Scientific Advisor to BEIS) - Space Weather Innovation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk Programme (a governmental perspective). The slides from Prof John Loughhead's talk are available here.
  • Prof Chris Mutlow (Director of STFC RAL Space) - SWIMMR: Project funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund (a perspective from STFC).  The slides from Prof Chris Mutlow's talk are available here.
  • Jacky Wood (Head of Business Partnerships at NERC) - Space Weather Innovation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk (SWIMMR) - A NERC perspective.  The slides from Jacky Wood's talk are available here.
  • Dr. Ian McCrea (Senior Programme Manager for SWIMMR) -  SWIMMR: Space Weather Innovation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk: A wave 2 programme of the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund.  The slides from Dr Ian McCrea's talk are available here.
  • Mark Gibbs (Head of Space Weather at the UK Met Office) - SWIMMR (Met Office perspective and detailed description of the calls.  The slides from Mark Gibb's talk are available here.

During the lunch break, the Announcement of Opportunity for the five NERC SWIMMR calls was issued on the NERC web site.  The afternoon therefore began with a brief introduction by Jacky Wood to the NERC Announcement of Opportunity, and the particular terms and conditions which it contained.

The remainder of the afternoon session was spent in a Question and Answer session in which attendees were able to ask questions to the speakers about the nature of the programme and the potential timing of future calls, and finally to an informal discussion session, in which participants gathered into groups to discuss the opportunities for funding which had been outlined. 

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
    programme
  • 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
    courses

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.