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Mullard Space Science Laboratory

Mullard Space Science Laboratory

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Mullard Space Science Laboratory
Established 1966
Director Prof Alan Smith
Location Holmbury St Mary
Holmbury St Mary
Holmbury St. Mary is a village near Abinger in the Mole Valley district of Surrey, England located within the Hurtwood, the largest area of common land in Surrey. Nearby to the south is Holmbury Hill, which at is the fourth highest point in Surrey. The village itself is named after the hill and...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

Students Post-Graduate
Faculty Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Member of University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

Homepage http://www.mssl.ucl.ac.uk

The UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) is the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's largest university space research group. MSSL is the Department of Space and Climate Physics of the University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

. UCL was one of the first universities in the world to conduct space research. MSSL has participated in 35 satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 missions, 10 of which are currently in operation and over 200 sounding rocket
Sounding rocket
A sounding rocket, sometimes called a research rocket, is an instrument-carrying rocket designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its sub-orbital flight. The origin of the term comes from nautical vocabulary, where to sound is to throw a weighted line from a ship into...

 experiments since its establishment.

It takes its name from Mullard Limited
Mullard
Mullard Limited was a British manufacturer of electronic components. The Mullard Radio Valve Co. Ltd. of Southfields, London, was founded in 1920 by Captain Stanley R. Mullard, who had previously designed valves for the Admiralty before becoming managing director of the Z Electric Lamp Co. The...

, and is located in Holmbury St Mary
Holmbury St Mary
Holmbury St. Mary is a village near Abinger in the Mole Valley district of Surrey, England located within the Hurtwood, the largest area of common land in Surrey. Nearby to the south is Holmbury Hill, which at is the fourth highest point in Surrey. The village itself is named after the hill and...

 in the Surrey Hills
Surrey Hills AONB
The Surrey Hills is a Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty , located in Surrey, England. The AONB was designated in 1958 and covers one quarter of the county of Surrey...

 AONB
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an area of countryside considered to have significant landscape value in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, that has been specially designated by the Countryside Agency on behalf of the United Kingdom government; the Countryside Council for Wales on...

, near the town of Dorking
Dorking
Dorking is a historic market town at the foot of the North Downs approximately south of London, in Surrey, England.- History and development :...

 in the county of Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

.

History



In 1957 Sir Harrie Massey
Harrie Massey
Sir Harrie Stewart Wilson Massey FRS was an influential Australian mathematical physicist. He worked primarily in the fields of atomic and atmospheric physics.- Life and career :...

 of UCL directed the first Skylark
Skylark (rocket)
Skylark was a British sounding rocket design. The Skylark was first launched in 1957 from Woomera, Australia and its 441st and final launch took place from Esrange, Sweden on 2 May 2005...

 rocket experiments. In 1957 the British electronics company Philips-Mullard
Mullard
Mullard Limited was a British manufacturer of electronic components. The Mullard Radio Valve Co. Ltd. of Southfields, London, was founded in 1920 by Captain Stanley R. Mullard, who had previously designed valves for the Admiralty before becoming managing director of the Z Electric Lamp Co. The...

 helped to set up the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory
Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory
Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory is home to a number of large aperture synthesis radio telescopes, including the One-Mile Telescope, 5-km Ryle Telescope, and the Arcminute Microkelvin Imager...

 (MRAO) at the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

. In 1962 Massey led a team from UCL, Imperial College London
Imperial College London
Imperial College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, specialising in science, engineering, business and medicine...

, the University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Birmingham, England. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Birmingham Medical School and Mason Science College . Birmingham was the first Redbrick university to gain a charter and thus...

 and the University of Leicester
University of Leicester
The University of Leicester is a research-led university based in Leicester, England. The main campus is a mile south of the city centre, adjacent to Victoria Park and Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College....

 that developed many of the instruments on Ariel 1
Ariel 1
Ariel 1, also known as UK-1 and S-55, was the first British satellite, and the first satellite in the Ariel programme. Its launch in 1962 made the United Kingdom the third country to operate a satellite, after the Soviet Union and the USA...

, the world's first multinational spacecraft. In 1964 Philips-Mullard produced a prototype electronic desk calculator as a technology demonstrator for its transistors and cold cathode
Cold cathode
A cold cathode is a cathode used within nixie tubes, gas discharge lamps, discharge tubes, and some types of vacuum tube which is not electrically heated by the circuit to which it is connected...

 indicator tubes.

At that time, Robert Boyd was the leading British researcher in space science and was based at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

. Joint funding from Mullard and UCL led to the expansion of his research programme and resulted in the creation of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) in 1966. Dedicated premises were selected near Dorking
Dorking
Dorking is a historic market town at the foot of the North Downs approximately south of London, in Surrey, England.- History and development :...

, Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

 where the laboratory has been based ever since.

The Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 Mullard Award for young scientists and engineers was set up in 1967. Philips continued to use the brand name "Mullard" in the UK until 1988.

Solar UK Research Facility (SURF)


As a part of the research undertaken within the Solar & Stellar Physics group, SURF collaborates with Yohkoh
Yohkoh
Yohkoh , known before launch as Solar-A, was a Solar observatory spacecraft of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science with United States and United Kingdom collaboration...

, SOHO/CDS
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory is a spacecraft built by a European industrial consortium led by Matra Marconi Space that was launched on a Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS launch vehicle on December 2, 1995 to study the Sun, and has discovered over 2100 comets. It began normal operations in May...

, and TRACE
TRACE
TRACE was a NASA space telescope designed to investigate the connections between fine-scale magnetic fields and the associated plasma structures on the Sun by providing high resolution images and observation of the solar photosphere and transition region to the corona...

 to produce CHIANTI http://www.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/www_solar/chianti/ - An Atomic Database for Spectroscopic Diagnostics of Astrophysical Plasmas. The CHIANTI package is freely available to all researchers subject to the condition of proper acknowledgement in all resulting publications.

The Grid


The European Grid of Solar Observations (EGSO) is a project funded by the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 under its Fifth Framework Programme. EGSO uses Grid technology to create the fabric of a virtual solar observatory. MSSL is involved in three components of The Grid.
  • AstroGrid: As part of the UK e-Science Initiative, UCL-MSSL is responsible for servicing as a repository for solar
    Sun
    The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

     data from AstroGrid. Astrophysical and solar-terrestrial data are held elsewhere in the UK.
  • GRIDSTART: In order to encourage collaboration between the Grid projects that the European Commission
    European Commission
    The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

     is funding, a cluster has been created under the GRIDSTART Accompanying Measure project. EGSO is one of the founding partners of GRIDSTART.
  • UCL Grid: As part of University College London, MSSL is also involved in UCL Grid activities.

Technology Management Group (TMG)


TMG offers research facilities and consultancy to support the development, management and exploitation of technology within an enterprise context through two main centres.
  • UCL Centre for Systems Engineering (UCLse) works with the UCL Departments of Biochemical Engineering, Chemical Engineering Computer Science, Electronic and Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering to bring together expertise to develop systems engineering research, teaching and technology transfer.
  • Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems (CAIS) was formed in 1993 to promote and encourage interaction between Industry and Researchers at UCL working in the area of Advanced Instrumentation. It provides a base for the Postgraduate Training Partnership with Sira, has designed and implemented an MRes Course in Instrumentation, has introduced an MSc
    MSC
    - Computers:* Mario Strikers Charged* Microsoft Common Console Document, file for the Microsoft Management Console* Microelectronics Support Centre* Microsoft Corporation* MIDI Show Control* Message Sequence Chart...

     in Applied Instrumentation , and, in collaboration with the Centre for Systems Engineering, has created an MSc Course in Systems Engineering Management. In the commercial field, CAIS has formed the Specialised Instrumentation Group which has about thirty small and medium sized companies as members, providing seminars and forums covering topics of interest. CAIS also manages the University College London KTP Centre, and now co-ordinates Postgraduate training for a number of Faraday Partnerships.

Smart Optics


The Smart Optics Faraday Partnership is an active network of more than 100 businesses and academic groups with the common aim of generating new enabling optical technologies and successfully applying them commercially in a diverse range of markets. Smart Optics working on such products as the Smart Ophthalmoscope, illuminated retail signage, and ultra precision surfaces. Faraday Partnerships are intended to promote improved interaction between UK research institutions and industry.

Test facilities


The MSSL Mechanical engineering group operates a number of test facilities which include a vacuum bakeout facility, thermal vacuum facility, a vibration facility, a cleanroom
Cleanroom
A cleanroom is an environment, typically used in manufacturing or scientific research, that has a low level of environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles and chemical vapors. More accurately, a cleanroom has a controlled level of contamination that is specified by...

 facility, Laser and Sputter coating facility, a Westbond wire bonding facility, ultrasonic cleaning
Ultrasonic cleaning
thumb|300px|Ultrasonic cleaner showing the removable basket in place, and a closeup of the light and timerAn ultrasonic cleaner is a cleaning device that uses ultrasound and an appropriate cleaning solvent to clean delicate items...

 facilities, and a mechanical engineering workshop.

MSSL participation in space missions


Since it was formed, the MSSL has worked on a number of different solar physics
Solar physics
For the physics journal, see Solar Physics Solar physics is the study of our Sun. It is a branch of astrophysics that specializes in exploiting and explaining the detailed measurements that are possible only for our closest star...

 hardware projects. Its earliest involvement came with an experiment on Ariel-I that made the first spectroscopic X-ray observations
X-ray astronomy
X-ray astronomy is an observational branch of astronomy which deals with the study of X-ray observation and detection from astronomical objects. X-radiation is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, so instruments to detect X-rays must be taken to high altitude by balloons, sounding rockets, and...

 of solar flare
Solar flare
A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up to 6 × 1025 joules of energy . The flare ejects clouds of electrons, ions, and atoms through the corona into space. These clouds typically reach Earth a day...

s. Other instruments were later flown on the OSO-4, ESRO-II, OSO-5, and OSO-6 missions. Instruments built have also flown on the Solar Maximum Mission
Solar Maximum Mission
The Solar Maximum Mission satellite was designed to investigate solar phenomenon, particularly solar flares. It was launched on February 14, 1980....

 (SMM), the Coronal Helium Abundance Spacelab Experiment (CHASE) which was part of the Spacelab-2 missions. More recently, MSSL has played a significant role in the Swift mission. MSSL engineers participated in building and testing the Ultraviolet Optical Telescope (UVOT) instrument on Swift.

In the future MSSL plans to participate in the Solar-B and STEREO
STEREO
STEREO is a solar observation mission. Two nearly identical spacecraft were launched into orbits that cause them to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth...

 missions. For Solar-B, MSSL is leading a consortium building the EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) http://msslxr.mssl.ucl.ac.uk:8080/SolarB/ which will provide plasma diagnostic in the solar chromosphere
Chromosphere
The chromosphere is a thin layer of the Sun's atmosphere just above the photosphere, roughly 2,000 kilometers deep....

, transition region and corona
Corona
A corona is a type of plasma "atmosphere" of the Sun or other celestial body, extending millions of kilometers into space, most easily seen during a total solar eclipse, but also observable in a coronagraph...

.

Collaborative agencies




External links



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The content of this article was adapted from the MSSL Online site http://www.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/pages/.