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

Nonstationary signal analysis in geophysics and other fields

A summer school plus conference on “Nonstationary Signal Analysis in Geophysics and other fields” will take place at Gran Sasso Science Institute, in L’Aquila, Italy, on 13–18 July 2020.

During the Summer School young researchers and PhD students will have a chance to learn about new data analysis tools/techniques for non-stationary time series and their theoretical foundation.

The summer school will take place during the first four days and it will consist of three eight-hour courses. Lecturers at the school are Patrick Flandrin (ENS Lyon), Yang Wang (HKSTU), and Hau-tieng Wu (Duke University).

At the end of the school there will be a three-day conference during which the speakers will show both the applications of these techniques to real-life data and present the current frontiers of theoretical research.

Applications for prospective students of the Summer School, as well as speakers of the conference are now open; for more information and to apply please visit the event webpage.

Autumn MIST

We look forward to welcoming you all to the MIST meeting taking place on Friday 24 January 2020 and would like to remind you all of a few details for the day. 

Location and Registration Fees

This year the meeting will be held at the Geological Society (across the courtyard from the RAS) at Burlington House. Registration is open from 09:30 and the meeting starts at 10:30. The registration fee is £25 - we can only accept on-the-door payments in cash.

New Programme

Click here for an up-to-date version of the programme and here for abstracts. Please notify us of any errors or omissions in the programme as soon as possible. 

Presenter Information

Contributed talks are scheduled as 12 minutes long, which should include 2 minutes for questions. Lightning talks must be a maximum of one slide and a duration of 2 minutes. The projector is suitable for slides with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The poster boards are suitable for A0 portrait posters - please do not bring posters wider than A0 portrait as you will be unable to fully display your poster.

Code of Conduct

We expect all attendees to follow the RAS code of conduct.

Europlanet Hub planetary science meeting

The Ireland and UK Hub of the Europlanet Society are conducting their first regional meeting on Friday 27 March 2020 at the Royal Astronomical Society in London. Regional Hubs are a means of promoting and disseminating planetary science research, and related activities, as part of the Europlanet Society's aims.

Reseachers from the Ireland and UK planetary science community are invited to take part in this meeting. The event will encompass the full range of planetary science research within the Ireland-UK communities, as well as showcasing the development of planetary science infrastructures and facilities. The programme will consist of oral and poster presentations.

Presentations are particularly encouraged from early career researchers, and scientists who have disseminated their work via Europlanet networking workshops or research infrastructure. We have five featured invited speakers who will describe their own research or the activities of the Europlanet Society.

For further details about the meeting and how to submit an abstract, click here.

This web page also includes details about a survey on Hub activities. All planetary scientists, regardless of whether they attend the meeting or not, are encouraged to respond to this survey by using the link on the Hub page. This will help focus the Hub's efforts over the next few years, and help make the Europlanet Society a valuable forum for its members.

Autumn MIST rescheduled

The community has voted to reschedule Autumn MIST for 24 January 2020.

We are moving forward with the same roster of speakers and posters that were previously announced. If you had submitted an oral, lightning, or poster presentation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 10 January so that we can verify the schedule accordingly.

MIST Council would like to thank the MIST community for a huge response to the questionnaire, which had 69 responses.

Autumn MIST cancellation/postponement

Previously, MIST Council announced the cancellation or postponement of Autumn MIST if proposed UCU strike action had not been cancelled by 22 November. The strike action is still scheduled to take place, and as such, Autumn MIST will indeed be cancelled or rescheduled.

We appreciate that this news will inconvenience some Autumn MIST attendees, but after much discussion, MIST Council feels that this is the best way to proceed to ensure a vibrant and constructive meeting.

As such, we would like to solicit the opinions of the community on the best way to proceed from here. If you would like to tell us whether you feel that the meeting should be cancelled entirely, or whether it should be rescheduled (and if so to what date), please fill in this survey by Monday 9 December 2019.