MSSL Planetary Science Group
Express carrying ASPERA-4 launched successfully on 9
November. On 7 May 2006, Venus Express entered its planned orbit.
The nominal science phase began in June 2006 and ASPERA-4 is performing
arrived at Saturn in 2004 and is continuing its highly
exploration of the planet, its magnetsophere, rings, and
Express (we are on ASPERA team measuring
water loss from Mars)
2 (with 'eyes' from a team led by MSSL-UCL)
reached Mars on 25 December 2003.
Mars Express is now in polar Mars orbit and ASPERA is working well.
We are developing penetrators for lunar and planetary applications.
successfully launched 2 March 2004, successfully passed Mars on 25
February 2007, asteroid Steins in September 2008, asteroid Lutetia in
July 2010, and reaches comet
Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.
The Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) Planetary
Science Group produce instrumentation for, and analyse data
from, international space exploration missions. The scientific aim of
the work is to explore how the solar wind interacts with planets and
comets throughout the solar system. Our space hardware speciality is
to measure electrons and ions in space plasmas. We are also leading
studies of the Martian surface and atmosphere, and are starting work on
the solar wind interaction with the Venus atmosphere.
The principal scientific area of study of the group is planetary
carried our electron instrument,
for which we are lead Co-I, (CAPS-ELS,
Cassini Plasma Spectrometer-Electron
Spectrometer) past Earth in August 1999 and Jupiter in December 2000
on its way to Saturn. At Earth, we took a 'snapshot' of the Earth's
magnetosphere during this very fast flyby, while at Jupiter we gathered
some exciting data on Jupiter's plasma environment and the causes of
Jupiter's aurora. We measured the solar wind between
Jupiter and Saturn, and since 1 July 2004 Cassini-Huygens has been in
Already we have excellent data on Saturn's magnetosphere including
plasma near the rings
and interaction with Titan and with the icy satellites.
Cassini is planned to orbit Saturn for four years until
2008 and an extended mission is likely.
We were lead investigator institute for the stereoscopic
cameras for Beagle 2. Beagle 2 was launched in
June 2003 and reached Mars in December 2003. Following the successful
miniaturisation of the
multi-filter camera system by our consortium,
we are now proposing similar systems for future
missions, including ExoMars.
We provided UV rejection and calibration technology for
the electron instrument for ASPERA-3
on the Mars Express orbiter, for which we
are Co-I. Mars Express was launched in June 2003 and entered Mars orbit
We also calibrated, blackened and provided a radiation shield for the
electron instrument for Venus
Express ASPERA-4, launched in November 2005, again
we are Co-I. We also lead the science team and coordinate comet phase
science operations for the Rosetta
Previous hardware missions include the Giotto mission to
comets Halley and Grigg-Skjellerup.
The datasets from our missions are available for collaborative
research projects. We welcome and invite any enquiries, and will
to support any requests as best we can.
See here for PhD