I am a Reader in Space Physics in the Blackett laboratory and a member of the space and atmospheric physics research group. I am also the director of Space Lab, the College Network of Excellence connecting all of Imperial's space expertise.
I combine blue-sky research into fundamental space plasma physics, particularly magnetic reconnection, with a program of challenge-led research into severe space weather. To do this, I combine spacecraft data analysis, the construction and flight of space instrumentation, and the development of novel computer simulations for space weather modelling and prediction
- Space Plasma Physics: I am particularly interested in a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection which occurs in the boundaries between different space plasmas. As well as changing the topology of the magnetic field in space, it also rapidly releases energy stored in the magnetic field, creating jets of hot plasma. To study reconnection I analyse data from a variety of spacecraft and I am a member of several operating science missions including Cluster (ESA), THEMIS/ARTEMIS (NASA), STEREO (NASA), Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (NASA) and Solar Orbiter (ESA).
- Space Weather Modelling: Whilst reconnection occurs in a wide variety of astrophysical and laboratory plasma settings, in the Earth’s magnetosphere it causes geomagnetic storms, an example of space weather. Space weather is on the UK national risk register because it is a very significant threat to
infrastructure resilience (e.g. power blackouts, satellite damage). At Imperial my research group is developing new space weather models and transitioning them to use both nationally at the Met Office, and internationally with the European Space Agency.
- Space Instrumentation: I am leading the development of new space instrumentation for both space plasma physics and space weather. This builds on the space and atmospheric physics group's considerable heritage and experience in space magnetometry. In particular I lead Imperial's involvement in the space weather RadCube project which launched in August 2021. I am also leading Imperial's involvement in the European Space Agency Lagrange space weather mission, planned for launch in the mid-2020's.
Previously, I worked at the University of California, Berkeley, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt MD where I held a National Research Council Resident Research Associateship. From 2010-2014 I held an STFC Advanced Fellowship at Imperial. In 2012 I was awarded the COSPAR Zeldovich Medal (Commission D).
Mejnertsen L, Eastwood J, Chittenden J, 2021, Control of magnetopause flux rope topology by non-local reconnection, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, Vol:8, ISSN:2296-987X, Pages:1-15
et al., 2021, Magnetic reconnection as a mechanism to produce multiple protonpopulations and beams locally in the solar wind, Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy, ISSN:0250-6335
et al., 2021, Multi-beam energy moments of measured compound ion velocity distributions, Physics of Plasmas, Vol:28, ISSN:1070-664X
et al., 2021, Drift orbit bifurcations and cross-field transport in the outer radiation belt: global MHD and integrated test-particle simulations, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol:126, ISSN:2169-9380, Pages:1-14
et al., 2021, Solar wind control of magnetosheath jet formation and propagation to the magnetopause, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol:126, ISSN:2169-9380, Pages:1-15