One-year MSc/Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate in SPACE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING


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University College London has been very actively involved in space research for many years and most of its space activities are concentrated at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL). This is a broadly based institute that was established in 1965 following a generous grant from the Mullard Company. MSSL has gained a world-wide reputation for high quality space research in a range of scientific disciplines. The increasing importance of this work in space was recognised by the formation of the Department of Space and Climate Physics around the MSSL in October 1993.

MSSL's Astrophysics Group studies Galactic and extra-galactic X-ray sources such as neutron star binary systems and active galaxies. Instruments have been built for Copernicus, Ariel V, Ariel VI, EXOSAT, Spacelab 1 and the German-NASA-UK ROSAT, and most recently for ESA's X-ray astronomy XMM-Newton and NASA's gamma-ray burst Swift observatories. The Group is also involved in ESA's Herschel and Gaia missions, one launched in 2009 and the other due for launch in 2012.

The Space Plasma Physics and Planetary Science Groups study the interaction of the solar wind with bodies in the solar system (e.g. the Earth's magnetosphere) using innovative space instrumentation. MSSL played a leading role in the AMPTE magnetospheric mission by building most of the UK sub-satellite and providing an instrument to measure ion velocities. A similar instrument on the Giotto spacecraft produced important results on the plasma and shock fronts around cometary nuclei. The Cassini mission, in orbit around Saturn, carries MSSL plasma instruments, and plasma analysers have also been developed for the four Cluster spacecraft, currently flying in formation in the Earth's magnetosphere. Instrumentation has also been provided for ESA's Mars and Venus Express missions.

The MSSL Theory Group applies physics and computational methods to seek general insight into exotic phenomena that are studied in space science. Theoretical modelling informs the interpretation of practical observation, while observation stimulates and constrains theories. Of particular interest are accretion onto degenerate stars, cosmology, gamma-ray bursts, isolated neutron stars, jets in active galactic nuclei, radiative transfer, ultra-compact binary systems, ultraluminous X-ray sources, X-ray sources in galaxies.

The Solar and Stellar Physics Group has made observations of X-rays from solar flares with instruments on NASA's Solar Maximum Mission and the Japanese Yohkoh spacecraft, which have led to a better understanding of the energetic processes that operate during these events. A UV spectrometer was flown on the Spacelab 2 Shuttle flight and spectrometers were developed for ESA's Solar Heliospheric Observatory and the Russian Koronas mission. MSSL instrumentation is currently flying on the Japanese solar mission Hinode.

The Climate Extremes Group focusses on tropical storms worldwide, European extreme weather and global drought, offering innovative research and award-winning products to benefit the prediction and monitoring of these weather and climate extremes. The Group's quantitative warnings help industry, government and society to better manage the financial and humanitarian risks caused by extreme weather.

The Detector Physics Group supports MSSL's flight hardware programme through developing the detectors and sensors used, by operating and maintaining specialist facilities, and by conducting a programme of strategic research. Areas of instrumentation supported by the group include microchannel plate detectors, comprising progressive geometry anode readouts, charge-coupled devices (CCDs), gaseous X-ray detectors, and cryogenic microcalorimeters including adiabatic demagnetization coolers. MSSL also has specialist teams of electronic, mechanical and software engineers who design, construct and test the space instruments.

The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering has been at the forefront of research in microwaves, antennas and radar for two decades and has taken a leading role in research in optics and opto-electronics since the mid seventies.

Research topics relevant to the space technology field include: phased and active antenna arrays for communication systems and radar, dual reflector antennas for radar tracking and ground station applications, self phased arrays for mobile satellite communications, and Rotman lens antennas for multiple beam applications. In addition, research on microwave and millimetre-wave propagation has been extended to the optical waveband. Systems research includes bistatic radar systems, direction finding systems and a range of advanced altimetry and synthetic aperture techniques.

In the optical field, the Department was the first to establish the new field of optical fibre sensors, in which the optical technology is used for instrumental purposes with both industrial and avionics applications. The growing field of fibre optics is being researched for new components using thin film technology and significant developments have been made in optical switching and optical computing. Strength in this latter field is exemplified by the establishment of a British Telecom Chair in Opto-Electronics and two Lectureships funded by Solartron Transducers and GEC Research.

A convincing demonstration of the scale and relevance of all this work is the high level of external funding received by the two Departments from the UK Research Councils, the European Space Agency, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Defence and industrial companies.



Entry requirements
The normal entry requirement for this MSc/Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate Programme is at least a second class Honours degree, or its equivalent. The main component of the applicant's degree subject should normally be physics or electronic engineering (for the pathway in Spacecraft Technology and Satellite Communications), or physics (for the Space Science pathway).

Duration and Structure - MSc Programme
The MSc Programme lasts for one calendar year (September - September). All lectures are given at UCL in London. During the first term (September - December) students attend Core lecture modules; most of these are examined in May or June, except one module for each pathway that is examined before the end of the first term. During the second term (January - April) students attend four Advanced modules, each of approximately 30 hours duration, which are examined during that term or in May or June. See below for details of the modules and options. Students start on an Individual Project during the first term and submit a Final Report in mid July. They then take part in the Group Project for the remainder of the Programme.

Lecture modules are of two types. Type I modules run for a whole term, and are examined in May or June. Type II lecture modules are each given over a single week, and followed by a tutorial in a subsequent week and an examination a few weeks later.

Duration and Structure - Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate Programmes
The Graduate Diploma Programme lasts for about nine months (September - June). Lectures and exams are the same as for the equivalent MSc, and the pass mark is the same, but the Diploma programme includes a reduced amount of project work.
The Graduate Certificate Programme involves no project work, and only the Core modules and one Advanced module need to be passed.

In order to be eligible for an MSc/Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate award, a student must complete all components of the Programme satisfactorily. The Individual Project counts for one third of the overall average MSc mark. To obtain an MSc award, students must obtain the pass mark in the exams and the project work. The results are not classified like undergraduate degrees but for a very exceptional performance a mark of Distinction may be awarded. Students who fail to reach the pass mark in an individual lecture module or project will have the opportunity to re-sit the examination in the following year.



For more details about the Programme structure and the syllabi of the taught modules, take a look at the Students Handbook (selected sections only).

The information given here may be subject to amendment before or during the Programme referred to.

This page last modified 12 November 2010 by [www@mssl.ucl.ac.uk]

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

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