UCLA is recognized internationally as a leader in the
plasma physics of space. Magnetometers designed and fabricated at UCLA have enabled space
science faculty and students to greatly expand our understanding of the magnetic structure
and dynamics of the Earth, Venus, Jupiter, their satellites, asteroids, and the solar
wind. UCLA scientists built the magnetometers for ground-based arrays such as the Sino Magnetometer Array at Low
Latitudes established in 1998 and the MEASURE array, as well as the magnetometers on many satellite
missions: the Apollo 15 and
16 subsatellites, launched in 1971 and 1972; the International Sun-Earth
Explorers (ISEE) 1 and 2, launched in 1977; The Pioneer Venus Orbiter
(PVO), launched in 1978; and the Active Magnetospheric Particle
Tracing Experiment (AMPTE) United Kingdom Satellite (UKS), launched in 1984, and Galileo about Jupiter.
Currently operating are magnetometers on
spacecraft in high Earth orbit; and the FASTand Fed Sat spacecraft
in low Earth orbit. UCLA space physicists are also participating in the Cassini
mission to Saturn and the Rosetta comet mission. The regions studied by UCLA space physicists
range from the surface of the sun to the outermost reaches of the solar system.
(Close up) PVO entry into
Research done by the magnetospheric, space physics, space plasma simulations
, space weather and upper atmosphere and space physics
groups includes data analysis, simulation, modeling, and theoretical plasma physics.
Topics of interest include the dynamics of the solar wind and the magnetospheres of the
Earth and planets and the interaction of the solar wind with bodies in the solar system:
asteroids, planetary satellites, unmagnetized planets, and planetary magnetospheres.
Recent discoveries include the determination that Jupiter's moon Ganymede has an
internally generated magnetic field; evidence for an ocean under the icy surfaces of both
Europa and Callisto; observations of substorms in the jovian magnetosphere; the discovery
of the type of lightning causing high frequency radio bursts in the Earth's ionosphere and
how the Earth's polar cusps are formed. Much effort is being expended towards the
understanding of terrestrial magnetospheric activity, including geomagnetic storms and
substorms and the aurora. Faculty and students attend many national and international
meetings and workshops, and have strong contacts with the international space science
community. UCLA is closely associated with national solar wind monitoring and forecasting
activities as well as NASA data management. NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS)
planetary plasma interaction node is run and maintained at UCLA. Extensive
computer resources are placed at the disposal of the students. An excellent electronics
laboratory is available for experimental projects. The engineering group in the Space Science Center has
participated in over 30 projects since 1965.
Galileo approach on Jupiter.
Painting by Ken Hodges.
Simulation of dayside