The Mullard Space
Science Laboratory is the UK's largest university space research
group. We aim to unravel the mysteries of space through research
in fields ranging from the Earth's climate to the most distant
galaxies in the known Universe, using innovative space instruments.
MSSL is University College
London's Department of Space and Climate Physics. UCL was one of
the first universities in the world to become involved in making
scientific observations in space. Since MSSL was established in
1966, we have participated in over 35 satellite missions and over
200 rocket experiments.
The laboratory is located in
a Victorian mansion set in 30 acres of land
in the Surrey Hills, 35 miles from London, with spectacular views across
the Surrey and Sussex countryside. Here we have the unique capability of
designing, building and testing instruments and other spacecraft systems
Five research groups supported
by specialist engineers conduct our scientific research. Staff also teach
space-related courses at UCL.
Our research areas are...
Astrophysics: Using space and
ground-based telescopes, we watch black holes and neutron stars devour their
neighbour stars, and supermassive black holes swallow the hearts of distant
galaxies. The Universe is the ultimate physics laboratory.
Climate Physics: Are predictions
of future global warming correct? Are the polar ice caps melting? What will
happen if they are? Can we forecast when hurricanes and storms will strike?
These questions are important to us all. We strive to answer them using our
climate models and Earth observing satellites.
Detector Physics: Detectors are
the eyes of space telescopes and particle instruments. With them we can see
to the edge of the known Universe. Detectors developed at MSSL have been
used on many international spacecraft in the quest to explore space. Detector
development ensures better, more sensitive detectors for future instruments,
and more discoveries about the Universe.
Plasma Physics: Our Sun loses
on average a million tonnes of its atmosphere per second into space as charged
particles or plasma. We use spacecraft to study how this gusty solar wind
affects the Earth, other planets, and comets, as well as the potentially
devastating effects it can have on satellites, communications, and power
Solar Physics: The Sun is the
ultimate source of energy for all life on Earth. But it also has a violent
side. Why does the Sun flare and spit huge clouds of hot gas into space?
Why is the Sun's atmosphere hotter than the Sun's surface? We investigate
the causes of activity on our local star using space and ground-based instrumentation.