UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory
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Cluster II Research Fellow

Name: Dr. Colin Forsyth

Job title: Cluster II Research Fellow

What education and qualifications do you have?

Ph.D. Space Physics (Bursty Bulk Flows and substorm-time magnetotail dynamics) - University of Leicester, 2009; MPhys Physics with Astrophysics - University of Leicester,2005; A-Levels: Physics, Economic, Maths, Further Maths, General Studies, 2001

Give an outline of your career so far

I've been fascinated by space for as long as I can remember. It wasn't until the second year of my degree that I realised that the intricacies of stars and galaxies weren't for me, but that the interactions between the Sun and the Earth were, so I concentrated on those courses which explored this Sun-Earth connection and the physics of plasmas that are key to this interaction. My interest was taken to such a level that I decided to carry on my studies and earn a PhD in this area. My PhD used data from the Cluster spacecraft, as well as various other missions and instruments, to examine the Earth's magnetotail environment. Towards the end of my PhD, an opportunity arose to move to MSSL, one of the institutes with direct links to the Cluster mission. I moved to MSSL in late 2008, just as the spacecraft began exploring new areas of the magnetosphere, and I've been here ever since.

Why did you choose this career path?

The drive to take what I had learnt to the next level. Every day I find something fascinating to work on, expanding both my own knowledge and that of my peers.

What does your current work involve?

The Cluster II (commonly refered to simply as Cluster) mission consists of four spacecraft orbiting in formation around the Earth. By taking measurements at four separate point simultaneously, we can analsye how the plasma around the Earth changes in space and with time. Cluster has been in orbit for more than 10 years now and has provided new insights into the physics of our magnetosphere.

Since 2008, the orbit of the Cluster spacecraft has dropped, meaning that they now pass over the auroral zones at 5-10,000 km. It is here that particles are energised to excite the brightest aurora. My current work involves using the PEACE instruments, designed and built by MSSL, to investigate the energisation processes in this region.

Hobbies and interests outside work

I am a keen hockey player, playing for my local club (Camberley & Farnborough HC). I also enjoy watching rugby and speedway, as well as scuba diving (preferably in nice, warm waters)

Colin on the steps at MSSL

Artist's impression of the four Cluster II spacecraft (ESA)

Mullard Space Science Laboratory - Holmbury St. Mary - Dorking - Surrey - RH5 6NT - Telephone: +44 (0)1483 204100 - Copyright © 1999-2005 UCL

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