Date: Friday 12th October | Time: 3.30pm – 4.30pm

Professor Christopher J Owen

Professor Christopher J Owen studied for B.Sc. and PhD degrees at Imperial College London before undertaking post-doctoral work at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

He returned to take up academic positions first at Queen Mary and Westfield College London and then at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), where he has led both the Space

Plasmas and Solar Physics research groups. He is the Principal Investigator of the Solar Wind Analyser (SWA) suite for the Solar Orbiter mission, leading an international consortium providing
multiple sensors to measure the electron, proton & alpha particle and heavy ion populations emanating from the Sun via the solar wind. SWA will make key measurements underpinning the missions goals to understand
the links between the Sun and the Heliosphere.


Lecture synopsis

Exploring the Origins of the Solar Wind with ESA’s Solar
Orbiter Mission

The solar wind comprises a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun at speeds of many hundreds of kilometres/second. Although very low in number density, the kinetic
energy flux and magnetic field carried with it are sufficient to significantly affect the space environments of Earth and other planets (effects which are increasingly referred to as ‘space weather’). ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission aims to sample the solar wind in unprecedented detail. In addition, using observations of the Sun itself from the same spacecraft orbiting close in to the Sun (inside the orbit of Mercury) and at high solar latitudes, the mission aims to reveal the links between activity on the Sun and the nature of the solar wind and thus how the Sun forms and controls the heliosphere. We discuss the mission, its goals and the instruments that have been been designed and built to achieve them.