Rolling Grant Support for a Programme of Research in Solar-Planetary and Atmospheric Physics at the University of Leicester

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

We propose a broadly-based programme of research on the outer environments of the Earth and planets, shaped by the interactions that take place between the planetary magnetic field, the solar wind on the outside, and the planetary atmosphere on the inside. The programme will consist of experimental work, data analysis, theory, and computer modelling, and can be described most simply in terms of four interactive elements. The first element consists of research in 'solar terrestrial physics' in which ground- and space-based experimental facilities will be used to examine the response of the Earth's magnetosphere to the highly-variable inputs from the interplanetary medium, namely the solar wind and embedded interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). The direction of the IMF is known to be a principal determinant of the interaction, but the solar wind ram pressure also plays a role. How the fundamental processes that occur within the outer regions vary in response to these inputs will be investigated, together with the transmission of the resulting effects along outer magnetic field lines into the Earth's polar ionosphere and atmosphere. Experimental research will focus on data from the SuperDARN radar array, the ESA Cluster space mission, and the new NASA THEMIS mission. A second area of study will consider related phenomena in the outer plasma environments of the planets, where similar considerations apply but under very different conditions. Results thus inform and are informed by understanding of the terrestrial system. Planetary research will initially focus on Jupiter and Saturn, using auroral data from the Hubble Space Telescope and in situ data from the Cassini space mission. Later, work will also begin on Mars in preparation for the ESA ExoMars orbiter mission, and on Mercury in preparation for BepiColombo. This work will also inform later studies on the outer environments of extra-solar planets. In the third research area novel active experiments will be undertaken in the terrestrial environment using the SPEAR, Tromso, and HAARP high-power radar facilities. These will first be used to study natural phenomena through the production of artificial scatter that can be detected by the SuperDARN radars. Secondly, they will also be used to artificially excite waves and oscillations in the Earth's ionosphere and magnetosphere in a controlled manner. Such wave excitation can 'tag' magnetic field lines connected to the radar deep into the Earth's magnetosphere, where they can be detected by spacecraft. Through these means the highly uncertain paths that magnetic field lines take through the outer environment of the Earth can be experimentally pinned down for the first time. The fourth area finally considers the impact that the space environment has on the upper atmosphere of the Earth, and the onward consequences at lower altitudes that may effect Earth's climate. This work will be undertaken principally through sophisticated computer modelling of the middle and upper atmosphere, and its responses to changes in the forcing at low altitudes and in the boundary conditions at high altitudes. Substantial development of existing computer models is required to do this. The work will also inform future studies of the atmospheres of extra-solar planets.

Publications

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Arnone E (2008) Seeking sprite-induced signatures in remotely sensed middle atmosphere NO 2 in Geophysical Research Letters

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Arnone, E. (2008) The Eurosprite 2005 campaign. In: Proc. 33rd atmospheric studies by optical methods (33AM) in IRF Sci. Rep., Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna

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Arridge C (2008) Saturn's magnetodisc current sheet SATURN'S MAGNETODISC in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

 
Description EC FP7 collaboration grant
Amount £355,731 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 03/2011 
End 02/2014
 
Description INTAS
Amount £9,000 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2007 
End 02/2009
 
Description Marie Curie Host Fellowship
Amount £379,930 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2006 
End 09/2009
 
Description NERC Falkland Islands radar grant
Amount £387,267 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2009 
End 08/2013
 
Description Royal Society-RFBR International Joint Project
Amount £6,800 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2009 
End 05/2011
 
Description STFC CASE studentship
Amount £70,000 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2008 
End 10/2011
 
Description STFC PIPSS
Amount £226,304 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2009 
End 07/2011
 
Description STFC Rolling Grant
Amount £1,760,268 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2010 
End 03/2015
 
Description BAS co-ownership of SuperDARN Falklands Island Radar 
Organisation Natural Complexity Programme
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint Falkland Islands Radar, to which we supplied antennas and technical expertise
Collaborator Contribution Joint Falkland Islands Radar, constructed using electronics supplied by BAS
Impact Joint construction and operation of Falkland Islands radar
Start Year 2010
 
Description BAS solar wind-magnetosphere coupling collaboration 
Organisation Natural Complexity Programme
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint analysis of solar wind-magnetosphere coupling datasets
Impact 5 co-authored publications
Start Year 2007
 
Description Cassini MIMI data 
Organisation Academy of Athens
Department Office for Space Research and Technology
Country Greece 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of Cassini MIMI data
Collaborator Contribution Provision of Cassini MIMI energetic particled data
Impact 1 joint publication
Start Year 2007
 
Description Cassini RPWS SKR data 
Organisation Observatory of Paris
Department Laboratory for Space Science and Astrophysical Instrumentation
Country France 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Analysis of Cassini RPWS data
Collaborator Contribution Provision of data derived from Cassini RPWS radio observations
Impact 8 joint publications
 
Description Cassini RPWS density data 
Organisation University of Iowa
Department Department of Physics and Astronomy
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of Cassini RPWS density data
Collaborator Contribution Provision of data from Cassini RPWS instrument
Impact 6 joint publications
Start Year 2007
 
Description Cassini VIMS data 
Organisation University of Arizona
Department Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are part of the official VIMS/MAG collaboration and are leading the analysis of the VIMS data
Collaborator Contribution In making the VIMS dataset available, we have been able to do significant research, including a Nature paper in 2008
Impact Significant scientific advances, including a Nature paper, as well as access to the Auroral planning team and higher status within the infrared space mission community.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Cassini magnetometer data 
Organisation Imperial College London
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analaysis of calibrated magnetic field data
Collaborator Contribution Provision of calibrated Cassini magnetic field data
Impact 14 joint publications
 
Description Cassini plasma electron data 
Organisation University College London
Department Mullard Space Science Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of Cassini plasma electron data
Collaborator Contribution Provision of Cassini plasma electron data
Impact 16 joint publications
 
Description Cluster research at University of New Hampshire 
Organisation University of New Hampshire
Department Department of Physics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Discussion of results of Cluster data analysis
Collaborator Contribution Analysis of Cluster data on solar wind-magnetosphere interactions
Impact 1 joint publication
 
Description HST planetary observations 
Organisation Boston University
Department Centre for Space Physics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative analysis of HST planetary observations
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research on HST planetary observations
Impact 10 joint publications
 
Description HST planetary observations 
Organisation University of Colorado Boulder
Department Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP)
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative analysis of HST planetary observations
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research on HST planetary observations
Impact 10 joint publications
 
Description Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Explorer collaboration 
Organisation University of Liege
Department Laboratory for Planetary and Atmospheric Physics (LPAP)
Country Belgium 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration with Belgian Colleagues (esp. Hubert) in the analysis and interpretation of IMAGE global auroral images
Collaborator Contribution Access to data from the NASA Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) mission
Impact 20 co-authored publications
 
Description Ion Outflows 
Organisation University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Department Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP)
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provided ground based radar observations of ion upwellings to complement conjugate spacecraft measurements of ion outflows
Collaborator Contribution Software/data analysis training Intellectual input.
Impact Invitation to speak at the NASA Living With a Star Targeted Research and Technology Focused Science Topic on "Ionosphere-Magnetosphere Plasma Redistribution"
Start Year 2008
 
Description Japanese all-sky camera observations 
Organisation Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative
Country India 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Coordinated observing campaigns with CUTLASS radars and all-sky cameras operated by Japanese colleages (Sato, Hosokawa) on a campaign basis
Collaborator Contribution Access to all-sky camera observations made chiefly in Iceland
Impact 14 co-authored publications
 
Description Japanese all-sky camera observations 
Organisation University of Electro-Communications
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Coordinated observing campaigns with CUTLASS radars and all-sky cameras operated by Japanese colleages (Sato, Hosokawa) on a campaign basis
Collaborator Contribution Access to all-sky camera observations made chiefly in Iceland
Impact 14 co-authored publications
 
Description Magnetometry collaboration with Augsburg College and UNH 
Organisation Augsburg College
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Intellectual input, analysis of data and research sctivities in conjunction with radars
Collaborator Contribution Data provision
Impact A paper by Badman et al (2009). The ground based magnetometers have provided important data supporting our high latitude activities involving the SPEAR high power radar and CUTLASS radars.
Start Year 2006
 
Description Magnetometry collaboration with Augsburg College and UNH 
Organisation University of New Hampshire
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Intellectual input, analysis of data and research sctivities in conjunction with radars
Collaborator Contribution Data provision
Impact A paper by Badman et al (2009). The ground based magnetometers have provided important data supporting our high latitude activities involving the SPEAR high power radar and CUTLASS radars.
Start Year 2006
 
Description St. Petersburg active experiments 
Organisation Saint Petersburg State University
Department Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI)
Country Russian Federation 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution collaborative science programme on analysis of ionospheric modification experiments carried out at EISCAT and SPEAR
Collaborator Contribution running of experiments, analysis of data
Impact 7 published papers
Start Year 2007
 
Description UCL ground-based observational data 
Organisation University College London
Department Department of Physics & Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have provided the magnetospheric context and discussions of the magnetosphere environment to their research
Collaborator Contribution They have provided detailed ground-based observations that have led to significant publications, including a Nature paper
Impact One Nature paper, and a number of other papers, co-written by group members at Leicester
 
Description ULF wave modelling 
Organisation Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics Irkutsk
Country Russian Federation 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of radar data
Collaborator Contribution modelling of ULF waves
Impact 1 published paper
Start Year 2007
 
Description VIMS analysis at JAXA 
Organisation Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency
Department Institute of Space and Astronautical Science
Country Japan 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have worked together on analysing the results of the VIMS instrument, in particular applying the results of our own UV analysis in order to produce a context for the IR data.
Collaborator Contribution The research done by collaborators at Jaxa has included a detailed set of statistical observations that have been compared with our UV observations
Impact One paper so far, with at least two more currently being worked on, with the results being shown at conferences.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Art-science aurora-related presentations 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Fullattendances at two presentations at the Science Museum, London, and at an evening performance at the National Space Centre, Leicester, plus smaller presentations at lierary festivals and local societies (total number of people involved of several hundreds)

Numerous requests for repeat performances
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010
 
Description Deep Space Advertising 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We were approached by the Doritos snack company (part of Walkers) to ask if it was possible to transmit the first intentional advert into space. It lead to a UK-wide ad campaign to encourage the public to submit home made video adverts. Once selected, we worked with te EISCAT scientific organisation to encode the advert and transmit it via the EISCAT high power radar. The signal was directed towards a relatively near-by (47 LY) extrasolar planet predicted to be habitable and suggested by staff at the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester. The activity received a lot of media attention even at the international level.

The activity lead to radio interviews and telephone interviews with the BBC. We have since been approached to repeat the activity. The national TV advertising campaign brought a greater awareness of space research to the public.
Doritos gave this department £6k towards summer studentsships.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Leicester Physics Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Audiences (from the public, schools and amateur societies) numberin 40-300 have attended evening lectures. The talks have appealed to people of all ages (eg. talks given by astronauts, by auroral physicists and our art-science collaborators). They have lead to lots of discussions and many of the public return for further lectures.

The lecture series keep the public and schools informed of popular issues and has lead to requests from schools, societies and even universities in other countries to request follow ups. Several associated press releases have also been picked up by the press.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010