Lancaster space scientist honoured by Royal Astronomical Society

A solar storm on Mars

A solar storm on Mars

Professor Jim Wild has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s James Dungey Lectureship for 2018.

He has been invited to give the annual James Dungey Lecture on geophysics at a meeting of the RAS in London.

“I’m truly delighted and honoured to receive this prize. Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing scientists and I’m looking forward to sharing this research in my lecture at the RAS.”

Professor John Zarnecki, President of the Royal Astronomical Society , said:”Over nearly two centuries, the Society has recognised the very best men and women in astronomy, space science and geophysics, in the UK and around the world, and this year is no exception.”

Professor Wild’s current research is focussed on understanding the space environment and the links between the Sun, the Earth and other planets, notably Mars. He studies the physics behind the aurora borealis, the impact of space weather on human technology and the interaction between the Martian atmosphere and the interplanetary environment.

His work on substorm onset timing and tail reconnection rates utilising Cluster and THEMIS spacecraft data resonates well with Dungey’s pioneering work.

Dungey’s research laid the foundation for how the Sun’s magnetic field connects to Earth’s magnetic field.

Professor Wild also studies the dayside plasma environment of near-Earth space and the coupling between the solar wind, magnetosphere and ionosphere using ground-based radar observations by SuperDARN and in situ field and plasma measurements from Earth-orbiting satellites, notably the ESA Cluster mission.

The concept of such a space mission was originally mentioned by Dungey in his inaugural Professorial lecture in the early 1960s as the only way in which the process of magnetic reconnection would be demonstrated observationally.

In the course of his research, Professor Wild has developed expertise in state-of-the-art computer models of the Earth’s magnetic field and has applied this to the modelling of Alfvn waves in the Earth’s magnetosphere and, via scaling of a terrestrial magnetosphere model, to Saturn.

I’m truly delighted and honoured to receive this prize

Professor Jim Wild