Solar-Terrestrial Physics

The RSPP group has made major contributions over the last decade to the field of solar-terrestrial research, specifically to an understanding of the dynamics of the coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere system as a result of momentum and energy from the solar wind.

During the last rolling grant period two new members of academic staff, Dr SE Milan and Dr DM Wright, have been appointed, which has expanded the number of staff active in this area to five (with Professors Lester, Cowley and Yeoman).

The successful scientific programme over the last decade has been driven by the group’s experimental capability, specifically its PI involvement in SuperDARN through the CUTLASS National Facility, as well as its Co-I involvement in the Cluster programme. Although the future of CUTLASS is currently uncertain, the RSPP group will maintain its association with SuperDARN, and will continue to exploit this internationally recognised major facility.

SuperDARN observations will be coordinated with space observations to be obtained by the Cluster extended mission, and by the new NASA/Canadian Space Agency THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) mission. The prime focus of the THEMIS mission, due to be launched in late 2006, is to investigate the plasma dynamics of the near-Earth tail during substorms, using a constellation of five spacecraft.

As a consequence of the RSPP group’s international reputation in ground-space studies, we have been invited to participate in THEMIS, the details of which are provided below. We will also begin planning for new missions and facilities, such as KuaFu and StormDARN, which we anticipate will play a major part in the group's activities.

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