MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

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..

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. 

2019 RAS Council elections

As you may have seen, the nominations for RAS Council are currently open with a deadline of 29 November. MIST falls under the “G” (Geophysics) category and there are up to 3 councillor positions and one vice-president position available. MIST Council strongly encourages interested members of the MIST community to consider standing for election.
 
Clare Watt (University of Reading) has kindly volunteered to be a point of contact for the community for those who may wish to talk more about being on council and what it involves. Clare is a councillor on RAS Council, with her term due to complete in 2020, and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 

 

Outcome of SSAP priority project review

From the MIST mailing list:

We are writing to convey the outcome of this year’s priority project “light touch” review, specifically with reference to those projects within the remit of SSAP. We would like to thank all the PIs that originally submitted ideas, and those who provided updates to their projects over the summer. SSAP strongly believe that all the projects submitted are underpinned by strong scientific drivers in the SSAP area.

The “light touch” review was undertaken with a unified approach by SSAP and AAP, considering factors that have led to priority project development (in STFC or other research councils) or new funding for priority projects (1/51 projects in the STFC remit) in the last 12 months. After careful discussion, it was agreed by SSAP and AAP not to select any project where the remit clearly overlaps with UKSA (i.e. space missions or TRL 4+), reflecting STFC’s focus on ground-based observations, science exploitation and TRL 0-3 development. Whilst in no way reflecting the excellence of the science, or community scientific wishes, this approach has resulted in some changes to the list of SSAP priority projects. However, now, unlike at the time of the original call, it is clear that such projects cannot move forwards without UKSA (financial) support, and such funds are already committed according to UKSA’s existing programme. SSAP remain strongly supportive of mission-led science in solar-system exploration, so SSAP have strongly recommended that the high-level discussions between UKSA and STFC continue with a view to supporting a clear joint priority projects call in future, more naturally suited to mission and bi-lateral opportunities.

The priority projects (and PIs) identified by SSAP for 2019/20 are:

  • Solar Atmospheric Modelling Suite (Tony Arber)
  • LARES1: Laboratory Analysis for Research into Extra-terrestrial Samples (Monica Grady)
  • EST: European Solar Telescope (Sarah Matthews)

SSAP requested STFC continue to work with all three projects to expand their community reach and continue to develop the business cases for future (new) funding opportunities. In addition, SSAP have requested that STFC explore ways in which the concept of two projects—“ViCE: Virtual Centres of Excellence Programme / MSEMM Maximising Science Exploitation from Space Science Missions”—can be combined and, with community involvement, generate new funding for science exploitation and maximising scientific return in solar-system sciences. Initially this consultation will occur between SSAP and STFC.

We would like to thank the community again for its strong support, and rapid responses on very short timescales. A further “light touch” review will occur in 2020, with a new call for projects anticipated in 2021. SSAP continue to appreciate the unfamiliar approach a “call for proposals with no funding attached” causes to the community and are continuing to stress to STFC that the community would appreciate clearer guidance and longer timescales in future priority project calls.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Helen Fraser on behalf of SSAP

MISTs of Time

The first MIST meeting was held in London on 20 August 1970, so we are well into our fifth decade! Henry Rishbeth, who with Peter Kendall was one of the originators of MIST, wrote an authoritative account of the origins and history of MIST to mark the 25th anniversary:

The idea of UK 'Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial Meetings' originated one evening in October 1969, while driving out from Sheffield to Peter Kendall's home in the Pennines. Peter and I were concerned at the lack of regular contact between UK groups working in the field of solar-terrestrial physics. It seemed that one had to go to international conferences to find out what neighbouring groups were doing! The success of the "Sydney Chapman Meeting" at Sheffield in July 1968, at which the great man himself was present, showed us that scope existed for regular meetings in the UK. We considered setting up a new society but, in conversations with Professor Vincent Ferraro, Mr Jack Ratcliffe and others, it became obvious that we should work through an existing learned society. Through the good offices of Vincent Ferraro, the Royal Astronomical Society took us under its wing. Peter thought up the MIST acronym, though its impact in other languages was not considered.

 

The first MIST Meeting took place in the Scientific Societies' Lecture Theatre, London, on 20 November 1970, with the theme Geomagnetic Storm Effects. The attendance of 200 was overwhelming, and has never been equalled at subsequent meetings. Largely, the audience consisted of astronomers who just came to see what we were up to. Quickly settling down to a more realistic size, MIST meetings were held semiannually at Burlington House, generously supported by the RAS. For many years, MIST was co-sponsored by the Institute of Physics, who provided some publicity. In the early days each MIST meeting had a definite theme. The May meetings suffered from poor attendance, and it was David Orr who solved this problem by inviting us to York in April 1973, for a residential meeting with a wide-ranging programme. This out-of-town meeting was popular, and was followed in 1974 onwards by 'Spring MISTs' at Leicester, Exeter, Aberystwyth ... the list is long, and MIST owes much to the local organizers of the spring meetings. Exceptionally, the Autumn 1974 meeting was held at Queen Mary College; it was planned to be the 'Ferraro Retirement Meeting' but sadly became the 'Ferraro Memorial Meeting'.

 

From the start, MIST meetings have been reported in the QJRAS and the practice continues, thanks to the work of Mike Laird, Anne Hadjiry, and many others. Maintaining the MIST mailing list is no light task; it was done first at the RAS, then at Slough, then for many years by Roy Moffett at Sheffield, and currently by Andy Smith and Margaret Riley at BAS.

 

With the advent of the 'UK Geophysical Assembly', MIST joined UKGA at Edinburgh in 1977, setting a pattern in which MIST sometimes joined with UKGA or with the RAS Out-of-Town meeting, at other times keeping to the traditional 'stand-alone' MIST meeting organized by a local STP group. This mix-and-match plan led to the holding of two successive meetings in Southampton: a 'stand-alone meeting' in 1978 followed by UKGA in 1979, in both cases benefiting from competent organization by the late Pam Rothwell. In 1992 MIST 'went international', with special sessions at the EGS meeting at Edinburgh. The autumn one-day meetings in London have continued successfully at Burlington House till the present day. Sometimes MIST takes part in a regular RAS Geophysical meeting; these so-called 'G/MIST Meetings' have helped to boost the total to 60 meetings in 26 years. MIST has become a forum for all UK STP scientists, sometimes welcoming visitors from overseas, a place for community discussions of wider issues, and above all the place for research students and new postdocs to present their science.

 

Henry Rishbeth

8 March 1996

[A version of this article has been published in Astronomy & Geophysics (1997) 38(2), 20-22.]