MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

2021 Astronomy Grants

The closing date for the 2021 Astronomy Grants Round is 4th March 2021. Submissions are accepted from now. The Astronomy Guidelines for Applicants have been revised and can be found via the links below (the PDF with the full guidance is available under the ‘who can apply’ section on both pages):

Applicants should ensure they have read the guidelines in detail and contact the office with any queries ahead of submission.

Key points or revisions from the 2020 guidelines have been briefly summarised below for information:

  • Page Limits – The page limit per project has been simplified and is no longer based on a requested FTE calculation.
  • Applicant/Project FTE – There has been a change to the upper limit for requested applicant FTE (25%, not including PI management time). The guidance for total FTE requests per project has also been updated and must be strictly adhered to.
  • Outreach Projects – Clarification on the page limit for outreach projects/outreach funding.
  • Pathways to Impact – UKRI removed the requirement to submit a pathways to impact plan in March 2020; however applicants should still consider impact as part of their case for support (see guidelines for further information).
  • Publications Table – Updates to the information required in the publications table.

New groups submitting their first consolidated grant proposal or those considering a consortium proposal are advised to inform the office ahead of submitting to the closing date. If you have any queries please 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..

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.

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.