MIST

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.

    Small Changes to Improve the Accessibility of Your Science

    By Michaela K. Mooney, Divya M. Persaud, George Brydon, and Jasmine K. Sandhu

    Michaela, Divya, and George are fourth year PhD students at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL). Michaela studies Earth’s magnetosphere and auroral dynamics, Divya studies planetary geology on Mars using 3D imagery, and George studies techniques and hardware for planetary imaging. Jasmine is a senior research associate at Northumbria University researching inner magnetospheric dynamics.

    The key methods we use to communicate our science are presentations, posters and social media. Ensuring that the content we are presenting is accessible to everyone in our audience will increase the impact. We provide some easy tips that we can all implement to make our content more accessible to a wider audience. Although these are just some really simple and easy changes that you can make, there is always more that we can learn - check if your institution offers any training courses for you!

    Improve your slides

    Many of the ways we can make presentation slides more accessible are generally good practise anyway and can vastly improve the overall quality of a presentation. A really useful guide to designing your presentation slides can be found here. Some key points to remember are:

    • Keep slides simple, use limited spaced out text with one figure or diagram.
    • Use plain light backgrounds and dark contrasting text.
    • Use plain, large font sizes (> 24 pt font) that can easily be seen from the back of the room or from a small laptop screen. This includes text on your figures too, such as axis labels!
    • Take your time to describe and explain all content on your slides, and avoid rushing through slides. 

    Figures 1 and 2 below show examples of a good and bad presentation slide layouts.

    An image of an example slide. The slide has a simple layout, clear and easy to read font, and a high contrast between the background and text.

    Figure 1. An example of an accessible presentation slide.

    An image of a slide with a unclear and cluttered design. The contrast between the background and text is low.

    Figure 2. An example of an inaccessible presentation slide.

    Use captions during presentations

    Captions are a simple additional tool we can use which vastly improve accessibility during a talk. Captions are very useful for people who are hard-of-hearing but they can also be useful for audience members who are not native language speakers, and those with dyslexia. For example, a study on student learning reported that more than 90% of students found captions helpful in supporting their learning. Captions are not always perfect, particularly if you have an accent, but they will catch the majority of what you are saying.

    PowerPoint, Google Slides, Zoom and Teams all have built-in captions functionality. Click on each platform to learn more about how to use the caption functionalities. Captions in Zoom can also be saved to produce a transcript at the end of a meeting.

    If you are using videos in a presentation, try to use videos with captions and audio description. Giving a brief explanation to what the video will show before playing the video helps to provide context to people with visual impairments.

    Use colour-blind friendly palettes

    Plots, diagrams and figures are the most common tools we use to communicate complex science ideas. Use colour-blind friendly colours to make sure that your figures are accessible to everyone. It’s estimated that around 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour-blindness (see NHS report here), so it’s very likely that these changes will benefit someone in your audience! Spectral or rainbow colour maps are commonly used in science, however they are not accessible to any type of colour-blindness [Crameri et al., 2020]. Additionally, our eyes do not respond to all of the colours within these maps equally, making it difficult to interpret the true nature of the data they represent (this is true for people with and without colour-vision deficiency). Instead, use colour maps which are perceptually uniform, meaning that colours are evenly distributed to form a linear colour gradient. Commonly used perceptually uniform colour maps include ‘viridis’ and ‘cividis’. 

    Different colours should also have a high contrast, so that they can be easily distinguished. There are plenty of resources online to help you find a suitable colour scheme, such as ColorBrewer and Coolors. You can check whether your colour scheme and content is suitable using a colour-blind simulator of filter (e.g. the Coblis simulator or the Paciello colour contrast checker). It’s also good practice to consider using additional ways to differentiate information, for example using different textures, line styles and annotations. An example of this is shown below in Figure 3, where the use of line styles, symbols, and a legend are essential for those with different forms of colour-blindness (panels b-d) to differentiate between the lines.

    A plot showing 4 lines, duplicated using different colour-blindness simulators

    Figure 3. An example plot, as shown by those with (a) normal vision and (b-d) forms of colour-blindness.

    Social media

    Lots of us use social media to promote our work, posting interesting plots, pictures of us giving conference or outreach presentations or highlighting a new publication.

    When posting videos on social media try to include captions if possible and if posting plots or images, many platforms such as Twitter provide image description functions which can be used to describe the image (find out how to do that here).

     

    This is by no means an exhaustive list of accessibility tips. It’s important to recognise that accessibility can mean very different things for different people, and this means that the way that we adapt our approaches can also vary. If you are arranging an outreach event, conference or meeting, do some research around accessibility and consider the accessibility of the venue. Encourage presenters and speakers to also be mindful of accessibility requirements. Creating accessible content is hugely important for outreach events as inaccessible content will actively exclude members of the audience. For open participation events, you may not be aware of specific accessibility requirements ahead of time.

     

    Thanks for reading! We’ve listed some helpful resources below:

     

    EDIT: Additional Links from the Community

    If you have additions to this list then please let us know by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!