Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

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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

The Global Network for the Sustainability In Space (GNOSIS)

The Global Network for the Sustainability In Space (GNOSIS) is an STFC Network+ with the goal of helping researchers within the Particle, Nuclear and Astrophysics areas to engage with researchers from other research councils and industry to study the near Earth space environment. For more details, visit the GNOSIS website or see this issue of the GNOSIS newsletter.

Over the next few years we expect a large increase in the number of satellites in Earth orbit. This will lead to unprecedented levels of space traffic much of which will end as debris. The aim of this network is to understand the debris populations and its impact on space traffic management with a view to enabling a safer environment.

The free GNOSIS lunch event will be held on 18 November 2019 at the British Interplanetary Society at Vauxhall, London, with a video link to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, to facilitate participation from across the UK. Tickets can be obtained here.

GNOSIS will be producing a programme of meetings for both space operations specialists and subject matter novices and will be able to support the development of collaborative ideas through project and part graduate student funding. Details of our first workshop will be announced in the next month.

If you are an academic with no direct experience but have knowledge of areas such as observations, data analysis, simulation or even law, then register your interest on our website. If you are a currently working in the space sector or if you are just interested in the aims and goals of the network please also register your interest and get involved.

Autumn MIST 2018

Autumn MIST will be held at the Geological Society (opposite the Royal Astronomical Society) at Burlington House, in London, on Friday 30 November 2018. The meeting will commence at 10:30 (with registration beginning at 09:30) and will include a poster session, lightning talks, and oral sessions. The registration fee will be £20, and we can only accept on-the-door payments in cash. Tea and coffee will be provided during the poster session.

The programme and abstracts for the conference can be downloaded at those links, and if you have feedback on the conference, you can submit it using this Google Form.

RAS discussion meeting on planetary astronomy with H3+

An RAS Specialist Discussion meeting entitled "30 Years of Planetary Astronomy with H3+" will be held on 14 December 2018 at the Royal Astronomical Society at Burlington House. This meeting is co-convened by Steve Miller (UCL) and Nick Achilleos (UCL).

Confirmed speakers include the co-convenors, alongside Sarah Badman (Lancaster), Marina Galand (ICSTM), Jean-Pierre Maillard (Observatoire de Paris), Henrik Melin (Leicester), Renee Prange (LESIA), Licia Ray (Lancaster) and Tom Stallard (Leicester). Talk and poster abstracts are welcome, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The RAS listing for the meeting is available here and the meeting abstract is as follows:

2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the serendipitous discovery of the H3+ molecular ion in Jupiter’s northern aurora. The discovery itself was the result of an impromptu collaboration between astronomical observers, telescope instrument builders, laboratory spectroscopists and molecular physicists. H3+ emission has subsequently been detected from Saturn and Uranus, of the Solar System’s giant planets, but not Neptune. As an energetic and reactive molecular ion, H3+ is now used as a tracer for energy inputs, via particle precipitation, into giant planets’ atmospheres from their enormous magnetospheres: variations in emission levels are used to monitor both shorter-term magnetospheric dynamics, caused by changes in internal (plasma density) and external (solar wind dynamic pressure) factors, and longer-term changes that may result from the solar cycle and seasonal changes in solar irradiation. The final results from Cassini – particularly the VIMS instrument – and new measurements from JUNO mean that there is a wealth of data to add to and complement that being generated from ground-based observations. All-in-all, there is a wealth of material to review and huge current interest in just how this simple molecular ion behaves and what it tells us about planets in our Solar System and beyond.


Details of MIST-related STFC summer schools in 2018

Details are now available regarding this year's STFC summer schools. With these summer schools, STFC-funded and self-funded PhD students are typically able to register for a fully-funded place, whereas other prospective attendees (e.g. NERC-funded PhD students or PDRAs) must pay a registration fee. This year, three summer schools are being run by the STFC which have been advertised to the MIST mailing list.

Introductory Solar System Plasmas Summer School

The STFC Introductory Solar System Plasmas Summer School 2018 will be run from 27–31 August 2018 at the University of Exeter. Registration is open until 15 July 2018, and if you wish to register or find out more, you can do so through the summer school's website.

The 2018 STFC Introductory Solar System Plasmas Summer School will be hosted by the Centre for Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics, Department of Mathematics at the University of Exeter. The School programme consists of Core Material and more Specialised Topics reflecting local Exeter activities (e.g. specialist lecture on space weather forecasting from the Met Office). It is suitable for incoming PhD students.

The two contacts for the introductory summer school are the course director, Dr. Claire Foullon, and the secretariat, Dr. Emma Clarke. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Advanced Solar System Plasma Physics Summer School

The Advanced Solar System Plasma Physics Summer School will be held at the University of Southampton from 9–14 September 2018. Registration and more details are, again, available through the summer school's website. Registration is available until 29 June for fully-funded attendees, and until 24 August for those who pay the registration fee.

It is a pleasure to announce that the 2018 STFC Advanced Summer School covering Solar System Plasma Physics will be held at the University of Southampton from Sunday 9 to Friday 14 September 2018. The school is ideally suited to second and third year PhD students, as it will build on the topics covered at previous years’ introductory schools.

The contact for the advanced summer school is the course director, Dr. Robert Fear. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

STFC Introductory Summer School for Research Computing

The STFC Introductory Summer School for Research Computing in Solar Physics and Astronomy will be held at the E. A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Hull from 2–7 September 2018. The programme is available on the E. A. Milne Centre's website and registration is being conducted through a Google Form until 13 July 2018.
The Summer School is aimed at (but not restricted to) PhD students in astrophysics and solar physics. We will use the Python language, which is fast becoming the de facto standard in scientific computing, particularly in astronomy and space physics. Python’s simple, readable syntax and thriving developer community make it an excellent choice of first language for beginners. However, the principles we will be teaching are language-agnostic and will give the students a good understanding of how to develop and maintain high-quality software in any language. This summer school will consist mostly of practical sessions, allowing the students to quickly put into use the concepts they are being taught. This will be combined with a number of invited talks and specialist sessions. Aside from the taught programme there will be plenty of opportunities for networking and socialising with other students and lecturers with an ice breaker event (Sunday) and conference dinner (Thursday), and an excursion.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Brian Anderson to speak at workshop on Joule heating

Brian Anderson has been announced at a one-day workshop, “System-Scale Data Analysis to Resolve Thermospheric Joule Heating”, which will be held at the British Antarctic Survey (Cambridge, UK) on Friday 27 April 2018. The abstract submission deadline for this meeting is Monday 19 March and registrations will close the week of the meeting, on Monday 23 April.

If you're interested in registering, you can do so by visiting the conference page on Eventbrite – postgraduate students are encouraged to apply for financial assistance to apply, as some money has been provided by the Royal Astronomical Society for this purpose. If you would like to submit an abstract, you can do so through the dedicated abstract submission form provided.

The aim of this workshop is to give a forum for discussing of the interdisciplinary utility of data-driven analytical techniques, and the best ways to harness the potential of the available large datasets which are driving advances in near-Earth space research. The specific focus of the workshop is on the intrinsically interdisciplinary problem of resolving Joule heating – the transfer of energy from electrical currents in the ionosphere to the neutral particles of the upper atmosphere.

The meeting is convened by Robert Shore (who is also the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at the British Antarctic Survey, alongside Anasuya Aruliah, John Coxon and Elizabeth Tindale.

Test MIST Special programme announced

The programme for the upcoming Spring MIST meeting in Southampton has been announced, and can be found on the Spring MIST website.

Each slot of 18 minutes, which comprises a 15 minute presentation and 3 minutes for questions. Posters will be A0, but the orientation has not yet been confirmed. The abstract book will be available online in the near future and will also be provided on a USB stick at the conference.

The meeting's chair, Rob Fear, wrote on the MIST mailing list, “For those of you wondering about the subject line to this email, the name of this year’s spring meeting makes reference to two things. Firstly, following the tradition of naming the spring meeting after local geographical features, it refers to one of our local rivers, the Test, which is one of the main tributaries of Southampton Water. The ‘special’ honours the fact that 2018 is MIST’s 50th anniversary year. Any similarity to low frequency emissions on 198 kHz is purely coincidental!”