PhD Studentship in Web-Enabled In-Flight Atmospheric Radiation Observations for Space Weather Risk Monitoring

(in partnership with the Met Office), Surrey Space Centre,


The Royal Academy of Engineering has recently recommended improved measurement of the complex radiation environment at aircraft altitude to help quantify the risks presented by space weather. To this end, an exciting new PhD studentship is offered in partnership with the UK Met Office and supported by Public Health England and the National Physical Laboratory, which uses new technology including: a) solid-state radiation detectors, b) smart phone applications and c) satellite geolocation/communications to enable a potentially revolutionary increase in the number of observations of atmospheric radiation available at flight altitude which could guarantee measurement of future solar storm effects. A miniaturized calibrated detector is to be developed and issued to a cohort of co-operating passengers and crew members to operate with a smart phone or tablet during a flight to record the radiation environment. On landing, data is downloaded automatically via the web and there is also potential for en-route transmission via satellite. Ultimately this new approach promises continuous global coverage of aviation flight routes and there is scope for involvement of the general public to progressively expand the observation network. Full details at (Project SC2014-23).

The student will work with the UK Met Office and will undertake a placement (4 months) to test and validate the new system on Met Office research aircraft. Time will also be spent with NPL (for calibrations), Solarmetrics Ltd (airline liaison) and Public Health England (to investigate public health applications). Also the SCENARIO DTP (see below) offers a range of general training courses to all PhD students.
Entry requirements: A first or upper second class degree (or good Masters) in physics or electronic engineering (or related subjects) and in any event a strong interest in physics and electronics/IT.

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Start date: September 2014 (nominally, but other start dates can be discussed).
CASE studentship: A supplement of at least £1000 pa to the normal tax free NERC DTP studentship stipend (£13,590 pa) is available under the CASE partnership with UK Met Office, including cover for certain travel expenses associated with the Met Office placement.

Funding, eligibility and how to apply: This project has been shortlisted for full funding under the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, SCENARIO, being operated jointly by the Universities of Reading and Surrey. Full details (SC2014-23) including eligibility criteria and a project description are available at the SCENARIO site:

Deadline for applications: Please apply via web site listed above before 31 January 2014.

For further information or for an informal discussion please contact Keith Ryden (Tel: 01483 682226), e-mail:, or as soon as possible.

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