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Imperial College Of Science, Technology And Medicine-Space

Imperial College Of Science (Space)
Dept: Physics (Space and Atmospheric Physics Group)
Head of Department: Professor J Harries
Courses offered: MPhil (2 years), PhD (3 years)
Studentships available: NERC, PPARC (Quota and CASE)
Average intake: 6-8
Entry requirements:

General Information
The group undertakes a broad research programme involving postgraduate students in experimental observations, data analysis, numerical modelling and theoretical studies. Our research encompasses the solar interior and atmosphere, the interplanetary medium (heliosphere), planetary and cometary magnetospheres, planetary atmospheres and ionospheres, atmosphere and climate physics and Earth observations.

Space physics research includes studies of the solar interior with helioseismic data from the SOHO satellite and from ground-based dedicated networks, and data analysis and theoretical modelling of the Sun's hot corona. Our heliospheric research is based on the data returned by two instruments, a magnetometer and an energetic ion detector, on the ESA/NASA Ulysses spacecraft which has provided the first measurements of the interplanetary medium over the poles of the Sun. In magnetospheric physics, ESA's four spacecraft Cluster mission was launched in July/August 2000 with Imperial College magnetometers on board: this mission to study small scale processes in the Earth's magnetosphere has already begun to yield unique insights into magnetospheric processes. Planetary research, which continues to exploit the Ulysses Jupiter flyby data set and extensive observations from the Jupiter Galileo mission, will become an even more active area with the imminent arrival of NASA's Cassini mission at Saturn in July 2004. Our research will make full use of our magnetometer onboard the Cassini Saturn orbiter to study the magnetospheres and interior magnetism of Saturn and its satellites. In addition we shall undertake atmopheric studies of Saturn and its largest moon, Titan. We are also building instrumentation for the Rosetta cometary mission. The experimental research in all of these topics leads to the analysis and interpretation of observations, complemented by theoretical studies. In conducting this research, group members collaborate widely, both nationally and internationally.

Research in Atmospheric Physics and Earth Observation centres on the study of the radiative properties of the Earth's atmosphere and climate, including how modifications to atmospheric composition can influence these properties. Complex radiative transfer codes are being used to study the greenhouse effect and the radiative effect of clouds. Data from NASA's Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite is being used to examine the distribution and time-variability of radiatively active trace gases such as water vapour, methane and ozone in the stratosphere. Measurements from ESA's ERS-1 satellite are providing information on the radiative properties of clouds on the ocean surface. There are new instrumental ventures in Earth Observation science with involvement in the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) experiment that is beginning to make radically new observations of how the radiative energy balance of the Earth changes during each day, and a new spectrometer (TAFTS) which is making measurements of atmospheric radiation in the far infrared from aircraft.


Contact Details
Prof. M. J. ThompsonSpace and Atmospheric Physics
The Blackett Laboratory
Imperial College
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