Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group
University of Leicester
Radio and Space Plasma
Physics Group
Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group
RSPPG Senior Staff Information
Site map
Staff list
Document last updated
Dr T Stallard

RCUK Academic Fellow in Planetary Science


BSc, Planetary Science, University College London, 1994-1997
PhD, Astronomy, University College London, 1997-2001
PDRA, University College London, 2001-2007
RCUK Academic Fellow in Planetary Science, University of Leicester, 2007-

Research Interests:

My main research interest is in using astronomy as a tool to better understand the planets, in particular as a way of supporting current space missions. My own research centres on the investigation of the infrared aurora of the gas giants using both ground and space based observations.

Ground based high-resolution spectroscopy

Using high resolution spectroscopy, I investigate the ion wind structure within the auroral regions of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. These ion winds are driven by currents connected to the solar wind and so detecting and characterising the way ions move in the ionosphere can give direct insight into the magnetospheric processes which produce them. High resolution spectroscopy is also useful in detecting weak auroral emission, useful in characterising weaker secondary emission.

Ground based imaging

Using the same observing technique as high-resolution spectroscopy, it is possible to convert spectrometers into very narrow bandwidth imagers (narrow in both the image size and the wavelength resolution). While this is usually of limited use, in the study of planetary aurorae, it provides an excellent tool for picking up weak emission. This technique, for instance, made the first-ever observations of Saturn’s infrared aurora. In addition, I am also involved with ultraviolet observations of Jupiter and Saturn using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Cassini support observations

An important part of the observations we make is in order to support ongoing space missions, by providing a ground-truth to the in-situ measurements. Currently, I hold a long-term observing status at NASA’s InfraRed Telescope Facility, allowing me to make repeated observations of Saturn’s aurora in order to produce new science and to improve the scientific returns from the Cassini mission itself.

Cassini-VIMS observations

The Cassini-VIMS instrument is an infrared multiband imager. I am a founding member and lead researcher in the UK MAG-VIMS collaboration team, who have unique access to cooperate with the VIMS team, reducing and analysing observations of Saturn’s infrared aurora. These observations allow us a unique view of the aurora of a gas giant as Cassini moves into an inclined orbit. They also provide by far the highest quality infrared images available for planetary aurora.

Contact Details:

Postal Address:

Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of Leicester
University Road

[+44] (0)116 252 3589

[+44] (0)116 252 3555


Pages created/maintained by: WebMaster