MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher (PEER) Forum

The STFC has issued a call for applications to join their Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher (PEER) Forum, which is designed to support talented scientists and engineers in the early stages of their career in developing their public engagement and outreach goals. This forum is geared towards PhD students and early-career postdocs developing ideas for public engagement with similarly-minded researchers in a context that allows them to feed suggestions for the improvement of STFC's programmes back to STFC itself, and involves meeting twice a year. The deadline for applications is 4pm on 3 June 2019. For more information and more detail on what the scheme involves, you can visit the PEER Forum webpage or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The aims of the PEER Forum are as follows:

  • To foster peer learning and peer support between early career scientists and engineers with a passion for public engagement and outreach.
  • To improve understanding of the support STFC provides for public engagement and outreach (including funding mechanisms, evaluation, and reporting) and how to successfully utilise this support.
  • To stimulate discussions that help to develop and influence STFC’s approaches to public engagement.

ESA Science Programme Committee greenlights SMILE

The Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) has been given the green light for implementation by ESA's Science Programme Committee. SMILE will explore the Sun-Earth connection in a very novel way, by mapping solar wind-magnetosphere interactions in soft X-rays. SMILE is a joint mission by ESA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CSA). The UK is one of many countries contributing to the payload development.

The SMILE payload comprises four instruments: a soft X-ray imager (SXI), a UV auroral imager (UVI) and an in situ measurement package composed of a light ion analyser and a magnetometer. The UK leads SXI, Canada leads UVI, and China leads the ion analyser and magnetometer. SMILE will fly in a highly elliptical polar orbit with an apogee of 20 Earth radii to image the magnetosphere and the Northern Lights for more than 40 hours continuously per orbit. The launch is planned in November 2023.

For more information, visit the European Space Agency, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, or Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

Debye mission proposal for ESA F-class call

We are currently preparing a proposal for the space mission “Debye” in response to ESA’s F-Class call. As the first dedicated electron-astrophysics mission, Debye will use the solar wind as a testbed to study universal small-scale electron processes throughout the universe. The mission's key science question is: “How are electrons heated in astrophysical plasmas?”
 
Debye will consist of up to four spacecraft that will orbit the Lagrange point L2. The main spacecraft will measure electron distribution functions with unprecedented cadence and very high resolution, electric fields, magnetic fields, and plasma ions. The deployable spacecraft will provide multi-point and multi-baseline measurements of the magnetic field to determine the nature of fluctuations on electron scales.
 
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RAS Specialist Discussion suggestions invited

The RAS is inviting suggestions from Fellows of the RAS for Specialist Discussion meeting topics in the academic year 2019/20. These meetings are held on the second Friday of the month between October and May in a given academic year; the April meeting will be moved due to the second Friday being Good Friday. 

If you would like to organise one of these meetings, you can do so by submitting a proposal no longer than one A4 page. Geophysics proposals, including MIST science, should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and the deadline is 1 March 2019.

Your proposal should include the title of the meeting; the names of the co-convenors (at least one of whom should be a RAS Fellow); the topics you intend to cover; the rationale (including timeliness); suggestions for invited speakers; and the preferred date for the meeting. More information, including detailed guidance, can be found on the RAS website.

 

RAS awards for 2019 announced

MIST Council would like to extend their congratulations to the 2019 Royal Astronomical Society award winners, as well as the recent AGU award winners. In particular, we congratulate the following MIST members recognised for their significant achievements:
  • Margaret Kivelson (UCLA) has been awarded the Gold Medal in Geophysics for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in understanding planetary magnetospheres and their connections to the planets they surround.
  • Tom Stallard (Leicester) has been awarded the Chapman medal in Geophysics for outstanding contributions to understanding planetary upper atmospheres and their interactions with their magnetospheres.
  • The Cluster Science and Operations Team have been awarded the Geophysics Group Award for their continued success ensuring the operations and scientific exploitation of the European Space Agency’s Cluster mission.
  • Mark Clilverd (British Antarctic Survey) has been awarded the James Dungey Lecture for their excellent research on energetic particle precipitation and its effects on the upper atmosphere and climate, and their vast experience delivering outstanding scientific talks to a broad range of audiences.
  • Julia Stawarz (Imperial College London) has been awarded the Basu United States Early Career Award for Research Excellence in Sun-Earth Systems Science for significant contributions in furthering understanding of collisional plasma turbulence and kinetic scale processes. 
MIST Council would also like to congratulate Fran Bagenal (Colorado), who has been awarded the AGU Van Allen Lecture for exceptional work on the understanding of planetary magnetospheres and outstanding contributions to planetary missions.

Nominating colleagues for awards

There are a multitude of awards available which recognise research done by geophysicists, and MIST physicists have been successfully nominated for these awards in the past. The list below may not be complete; if you have any suggestions for awards not listed, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Awards in the UK

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)

The RAS presents several awards and prizes annually which are available to MIST researchers. The main family of RAS awards have a deadline for nominations at the end of July each year, and are available for everyone from postdocs to the most senior professors, as well as recognising consortia such as EISCAT or SuperDARN (both previous winners). The awards are paired, with geophysics and astrophysics equivalents for each.

The RAS also awards the Annie Maunder medal (with a deadline for nominations on the last Friday in September) for achievements in outreach. This has so far been won by outreach professionals rather than by academics with strong public engaegment records, but this may change over time.

Finally, the Keith Runcorn thesis prize has a deadline for nominations at the end of January, and is for the best PhD thesis in geophysics in the preceding year.

Institute of Physics (IOP)

The IOP have a large family of awards and medals but we think that the following two medals are those that are relevant to the MIST community. The nominations period for these awards runs from October to the end of January.

  • The Edward Appleton Medal (formerly the Chree Medal) is awarded for contributions to environmental, Earth or atmospheric physics, and has been won by MIST physicists such as Michele Dougherty and Michael Lockwood.
  • The Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin Medal is awarded for contributions to plasma, solar or space physics. This medal has also been won by MIST physicists; most recently Steven Schwartz. 

International awards

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

The AGU also has a large family of awards, the deadline for which is in March. The list of awards given by AGU as a whole can be explored on their website, and of particular relevance to members of the MIST community is the John Adam Fleming Medal. The Space Physics and Aeronomy (SPA) section of AGU also gives honours to eligible physicists, and the most relevant honours they bestow are listed below.

European Geosciences Union (EGU)

The EGU's awards and medals are given out annually, and have a deadline for nominations in mid-June. We have tried to list the most relevant awards below, but we encourage members of the community to browse the full list.

European Physical Society

The Plasma Physics Division of the European Physical Society has three awards which are awarded annually. Each award has its own deadline, but all of them appear to be in November.

European Space Weather Week

European Space Weather Week awards three medals annually to researchers in the field. At the time of writing, the deadline for nominations appears to be the start of September.

  • The Kristian Birkeland medal, for "a unique ability to combine basic and applied research to develop useful space weather products that are being used outside the research community", and whose contributions have significantly advanced the field.
  • The Baron Marcel Nicolet medal, for demonstrating an ability to link the space weather community in the spirit of peace and friendship, and who has educated both inside and outside the community.
  • The Alexander Chizhevsky medal for outstanding and innovative achivements in space weather research by a young researcher.