Solar-Planetary Physics

Planetary science in RSPP

Planetary science in the Radio & Space Plasma Physics group focuses on the processes that take place in the outer gaseous environments of solar system bodies, involving the coupling of the planetary upper atmosphere and  magnetic field with the solar wind plasma that blows continuously outward from the Sun.  The Saturn system forms a particular focus at present due to participation in the on-going NASA Cassini orbiter mission, with particular interests in large-scale dynamics, Saturn auroraincluding magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling and the origin of the aurora.  The research programme involves analysis of in situ Cassini data, remote-sensing observations using ground-based telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope, and theoretical modelling.  Related work is also in progress on the Jovian system, now directed towards participation in the NASA New Frontiers Juno polar orbiter space mission, due to arrive in at Jupiter in 2016.  An expanding programme of experimental studies of Mars’s interaction with the solar wind is also in progress using Mars Express and Rosetta fly-by data.  Group members have experiment Co-Investigator status and hence data access rights on the NASA Cassini Saturn orbiter mission, the ESA Rosetta comet mission, the NASA Juno Jupiter orbiter mission, the ESA Bepi-Colombo Mercury mission, and the ESA Exo-Mars mission.

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