Undergraduate research opportunities

Every year many undergraduate students undertake research placements in the SPAT group, making invaluable contributions. We are always looking to engage UG students in our research, and these pages provide more information about how you can get involved.

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Current/Upcoming UROP projects

To find UROP opportunities for this summer click on the 'UROP opportunities' tab

 

This table will be populated prior to the summer 2020 period with students accepted for UROP places in SPAT.

UROP students 2020
Project TitleStudentSupervisor
     
     
     
SPAT UROP projects summer 2020
Summary of the table's contents

Previous UROP projects in SPAT

 

UROP students 2019
Project TitleStudentSupervisor
     
The role of clouds for natural climate variability and forced climate change Paul Curtis Dr Paulo Ceppi
Cassini magnetometer studies: End of MIssion dataset Daniel Gillies Prof Michele Dougherty & Dr Greg Hunt
Investigating the use of compressional mirror-mode fluctuations in space plasmas for the calibration of magnetometer instruments Gabriel Maheson Chris Carr
ASTRAEUS James McKevitt Dr Ingo Mueller-Wodarg
Software support for JUICE Magnetometer Development Clovis Parker-Jervis Alex Strickland
Solar system science Katherine Sephton Dr Adam Masters
Data analysis of JUICE Magnetometer ground test campaign Anne Soltow Richard Baughen
Analysing the substructure of magnetic flux ropes using data from NASA's magnetospheric multiscale mission Madalina Tudorache Dr Julia Stawarz
Quantifying forcing, feedbacks and climate sensitivity in global climate models Lisa Winkler Dr Paulo Ceppi
To develop a performance prediction model of magnetic field in Python Jie Sing Yoo Chris Carr
Calculating Cassini's potential: A high-performance computing study Zeqi Zhang Dr Ravi Desai
Parker Solar Probe measurements of the near-Sun solar wind Ronan Laker Prof Tim Horbury
To develop a performance prediction model of magnectic field in Python Jie Sing Yoo  Chris Carr
SPAT UROP projects summer 2019
Summary of the table's contents

UROP students 2018
Project TitleStudentSupervisor
 Partitioning of heat transport between ocean and atmosphere  Jack Carlin  Arnaud Czaja
 Mirror-mode structures in the Earth's magnetosphere investigated using data from the Cluster FGM magnetometers  Han Yau Choong  Chris Carr 
 Development of magnetoresistive sensors for space weather monitoring  Claudia Cobo Torres  Chiara Palla 
 Building a database of simulations for the Forum mission  Xinmiao Hu  Helen Brindley
 Analysis of PDRMIP solar experiments  Elliott Kasoar  
 Predicting the space weather effects of coronal mass ejections  Ronan Laker  Tim Horbury
 Studies of oceanographical tracers  Elleanor Lamb  Heather Graven
 Development of a magnetic moment inversion system for the screening of magnetic parts to be used in an instrument in development for the ESA JUICE Mission  Adrian Lamoury   Patrick Brown 
 Using machine learning to reduce uncertainty in climate change predictions  Gerald Lim   Peer Nowack
 Developing a novel ozone parameterization to speed up climate change simulations  Qing Yee Ellie Ong   
 ITCZ shifts in an intermediate complexity atmospheric model  Burhanuddin Pisavadi  Arnaud Czaja
 Mirror-mode structures in the Earth's magnetosphere investigated using data from the Cluster FGM magnetometers  Jiatianfu Qu   Chris Carr
 The intertropical convergence zone in past and future climates  Rhidian Thomas  
 Study on SFG in the ocean  Henry Throp   Heather Graven
 Analysing data from the Helios Solar Mission to explore the process of magnetic reconnection  Hanae Tilquin   Jonathan Eastwood 
SPAT UROP projects summer 2018
Summer 2018 UROP students and projects

UROP Opportunities

Opportunities to pursue UROP placements in SPAT in summer 2020 can be found here.

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Forecasting Radiation for the Lunar Gateway Space Station: High-Performance-Computing Simulations (UKSA funded)

Description: Large-scale eruptions from the Sun, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, can produce intense fluxes of Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) which propagate Sun-to-Earth in incredibly short time-periods. These present a major concern for spacecraft and astronauts travelling beyond the protective influence of the Earth’s magnetic field. The focus of the project will be to develop predictive capabilities for SEP radiation doses for specific scenarios and spacecraft missions. The primary focus will be the upcoming International Lunar Gateway Space Station which will be placed in a highly elliptical lunar orbit and act as a base for future exploration of the lunar south pole and Mars.

The project will simulate the propagation of SEPs through the heliosphere using Imperial’s High-Performance-Computing facilities.  The successful applicant will use and modify existing simulation codes and analyse the simulation results.  A first step will be to study and characterise historical events, including several near-miss events of the Apollo missions and the famous Carrington event of 1859. Following this, the project will run an ensemble of simulations, with varying initial conditions, to predict and evaluate threats posed during upcoming solar cycles 25 and 26. Subsequent steps could include expanding this to scenarios for specific orbital trajectories and examining mitigation procedures available.  

This is a computational research project with a mixture of physics and engineering elements. The successful applicant will gain a firm knowledge-base in space weather research and a strong transferable skill-set that is invaluable for research, but also broadly applicable to disciplines beyond.

This internship is funded by the UK Space Agency who handles the application and admissions process. To apply please visit the following address: https://sa.catapult.org.uk/work-with-us/space-placements-industry-spin/

For more information, please contact Dr Ravindra Desai ravindra.desai@imperial.ac.uk

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New observations of transient structures in the inner heliosphere

Description: In February 2020, ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft will launch and travel into the inner solar system, carrying a magnetic field instrument built at Imperial College. It will  be accompanied by NASA’s Parker Polar Probe spacecraft, launched in 2018, which has already travelled closer to the Sun than ever before. Such scientific spacecraft in our own Solar System allow us to directly investigate solar wind plasma processes in great detail with directly measured electromagnetic fields and particles.

The focus of this project will be on transient structures travelling in the solar wind, in particular shock waves. Shock waves are ubiquitous throughout the universe and one of the main accelerators of high-energy particles in space. You will develop tools to analyse the newly collected data, identify transient structures, and characterize them using a variety of instruments on-board the spacecraft.

Skills and experience: Through this project, you will gain experience in data analysis of spacecraft measurements and space plasma processes. Some experience in coding is necessary. The work will directly contribute to active research within Imperial and will be supported by the space group.

A Royal Society bursary will be available for the successful applicant. The deadline for statements of interest is Monday, February 17.

 For more information, please contact Dr Heli Hietala 6M58 Huxley Building h.hietala@imperial.ac.uk

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Global simulations of dayside magnetospheric transients and their impacts

Description: When the constant outflow of plasma from the Sun - the solar wind - meets the Earth’s magnetosphere, three key regions are formed: First the bow shock slows down the supermagnetosonic solar wind. The turbulent layer downstream of it is called the magnetosheath, where the compressed solar wind plasma flows around the magnetopause, the outer boundary of the magnetosphere. Global simulations of the interaction between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetosphere are crucial for placing satellite observations in context and for providing a better understanding of magnetospheric structure and dynamics. Consequently, Imperial has developed its own global magnetohydrodynamic model (Gorgon), which runs using high performance facilities.

Recent spacecraft observations have demonstrated that nonlinear plasma processes lead to emergence of various smaller scale structures upstream and downstream of the bow shock. Of specific interests are magnetosheath jets - localized dynamic pressure enhancements which upon impact with the magnetopause can disturb the whole magnetospheric system. In this project, you will perform numerical experiments with Gorgon on launching localized structures from the bow shock towards the magnetopause, and exploring their impacts.

Skills and experience: Through this project, you will gain experience in running the Gorgon code and analysing the output data. Some experience in coding is necessary. The work will directly contribute to active research within Imperial and will be supported by the space group.

A Royal Society bursary will be available for the successful applicant. The deadline for statements of interest is Monday, February 17. 

For more information, please contact Dr Heli Hietala 6M58 Huxley Building h.hietala@imperial.ac.uk

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High resolution (10m) satellite data for understanding cloud properties 

Description: Recent have shown that the amount of cloud is correlated to satellite observations of aerosol. If this correlation is due to aerosol, this would be a substantial cooling effect on the climate. However, undetected small clouds can contaminate the satellite retrieved aerosol, enhancing it and perhaps generating this relationship. In this project, you will use high resolution satellite imagery to investigate where and why the aerosol retrieval is contaminated and how this can be controlled for.

For more information, contact Ed Gryspeerdt.

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Software Support of JUICE magnetometer ground test campaign

Description: We are developing a magnetometer instrument that will fly on ESA’s JUICE space mission to the Jupiter system in 2022. Arriving at Jupiter in 2030 it will make a tour of the Galilean moons Callisto, Europa and Ganymede. The magnetometer measures the local magnetic field vector and will be used to confirm the presence of oceans buried underneath the lunar surface. An integral part of delivering a space qualified instrument is the extensive test campaign that is undertaken on ground before launch. We are offering projects to support this test campaign in the area of software and programming. Key tasks will include: 

• Helping to automate detailed testing of the instrument’s software via scripts and existing applications

• Check existing software for errors and inefficiencies via analysis tools

• Writing and testing scripts for data decode, display and analysis

• Working with the engineers to troubleshoot anomalous data and to support and help improve general laboratory test activities

Successful candidates will work closely with the engineering team at the Space Magnetometer Laboratory which has a high international profile having been responsible for providing instrumentation for many ESA and NASA missions including Ulysses, Cassini, and Rosetta.

Skills and experience: Some experience of coding is necessary, preferably in Python or C. Experience or interest in microcontrollers (Arduino, Raspberry pi etc.), electronics and programming or scripting using Linux. The candidate must be enthusiastic about instrumentation and be willing to work as part of the team to help deliver a successful test campaign. 

For more information, contact Alex Strickland.

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Analysing the substructure of magnetic flux ropes using data from NASA’s MMS mission

Description: NASA’s Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (MMS) mission is a 4-spacecraft mission, which collects measurements of the plasma that surrounds the Earth. The measurements are collected up to a factor of 100 times faster than any previous mission and the spacecraft orbit in a close formation, offering an unprecedented look at the small-scale dynamics in the plasma. Members of SPAT are closely involved with the science team for MMS and the successful candidate will work closely with the MMS team at Imperial. 

This project builds off recent work performed within the group that showed intense small-scale electric fields can be present inside twisted magnetic field structures, known as flux ropes, in the Earth’s magnetotail. These structures are formed by a process called magnetic reconnection, which releases energy that has been built up in the Earth’s magnetic field and can drive the Earth’s aurora and space weather events. The project will involve:

  • Identifying magnetic flux ropes in the MMS dataset
  • Determining how common intense small-scale electric fields are within magnetic flux ropes
  • Using measurements from a variety of instruments on MMS to characterize the type of electric field structures present

Skills and experience: Some experience coding is necessary. The project will use IDL, but experience in other coding languages is acceptable.

For more information, please contact Dr Julia Stawarz.

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Data analysis of JUICE magnetometer ground test campaign

Description We are developing a magnetometer instrument that will fly on ESA’s JUICE space mission to the Jupiter system in 2022. Arriving at Jupiter in 2030 it will make a tour of the Galilean moons Callisto, Europa and Ganymede. The magnetometer measures the local magnetic field vector and will be used to confirm the presence on oceans buried underneath the lunar surface.

An integral part of delivering a space qualified instrument is the extensive test campaign that is undertaken on ground before launch. We are offering projects to support this test campaign. Key tasks will include:

• Analyse the susceptibility of fluxgate magnetometers to a high frequency radiated B-field.

• Analysis of magnetometer data taken during the on-ground test campaign   including performance testing EMC, thermal vacuum and calibration tests

• Work with the engineers to troubleshoot anomalous data

• Support and help improve general laboratory test activities

Successful candidates will work closely with the engineering team at the Space Magnetometer Laboratory which has a high international profile having been responsible to instrumentation for many ESA and NASA missions including Ulysses, Cassini, and Rosetta.

Skills and experience Some experience of coding is necessary, preferably in MATLAB. Hands on experience with electronics and/or instrumentation hardware is also desirable. The candidate must be enthusiastic about instrumentation and be willing to work as part of the team to help deliver a successful test campaign. 

For more information, contact Richard Baughen.