Master theses projects

Below are topics available for Master’s thesis projects and shorter student projects at IRF. Completed projects can be found in the right menu.

How does the spacecraft potential affect the low energy particle measurements on the JUICE spacecraft?

Interactions between a spacecraft and the space environment leads to charging up of the spacecraft surface either to positive or negative potentials. This is problematic for instruments on board measuring charged particles, since the charged spacecraft changes the energy and trajectory of any charged particle approaching it.

Particles with low energies are especially affected, and the interpretation of low energy particle observations is hence very difficult. In 2022 the JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer (JUICE) will be launched to Jupiter.

Measurements made by two plasma instruments on board, the Jovian plasma Dynamics and Composition analyser (JDC) and the Jovian Electron and Ion spectrometer (JEI), will be affected by the spacecraft potential at low particle energies.

In this project we will study these effects. We will use the simulation tool SPIS to investigate the field of view distortion of these instruments for certain conditions in the Jupiter environment.

Skills needed: A genuine interest in basic science. No previous experience with the SPIS software is needed, but basic knowledge in numerical methods is favourable. Basic/moderate programming experience in Python, MATLAB or IDL.

Contact person: Sofia Bergman,

Starting time: Spring 2020 (earliest in January)

(Solar system physics and space technology)

Published in October 2019

How does the proton temperature anisotropy in Venus plasma environment depend on upstream conditions?

Ion data from Venus Express have revealed proton temperature anisotropies at the dayside of the planet. The ratio between the perpendicular (to the magnetic field) and the parallel temperature is largest close to the subsolar point at the dayside.

Temperature anisotropies can give rise to different types of plasma waves and energy transfer from particles to waves. From Earth we know that the strength of such a temperature anisotropy may depend on the type of bow shock present and the Mach number.

The anisotropy may also change depending on other upstream (solar wind) parameters. In this project we use Venus Express data to study how the temperature anisotropy is affected by different parameters and what that could lead to.

Skills needed: A genuine interest in basic science. Basic/moderate programming experience in Matlab, IDL or Python. All programs needed for the project should be written in Python.

Contact person: Gabriella Stenberg Wieser,

Starting time: Spring 2020 (earliest in December 2019)

(Solar system physics and space technology)

Published in October 2019