AGORA: Andrew Coates

Wednesday 24 August, 12:00–13:00
Sibelius Museum

Winds in Our Solar System

Space beyond Earth’s atmosphere is not empty. The Sun emits the ‘solar wind’, a million tonne per second supersonic stream of charged particles which interacts with planets and comets. This produces spectacular visible effects like the aurora and comet plasma tails. The solar wind is deflected and heated at bow shock waves upstream of the objects. We will listen to some of the sounds of plasma interactions at planets including Earth, Jupiter and Saturn. Within planetary atmospheres, space missions have captured sounds of winds on Mars, Titan and comets. We will listen to sounds from these alien worlds.

The image shows Andrew Coates holding the Engineering Model of the Rosalind Franklin PanCam instrument.

Prof. Andrew Coates gained a BSc in Physics from UMIST, and MSc and D.Phil. in Plasma Physics from Oxford University. He is Deputy Director (solar system) at UCL-MSSL. His space mission involvements include the Rosalind Franklin (ExoMars) rover, where he leads the PanCam team, Perseverance, Cassini-Huygens, Venus Express, Mars Express and Giotto. His scientific interests include how plasma interacts with planets and comets, planetary surfaces and atmospheres, and space instrumentation. He is a member of STFC Science Board, is active in space and science outreach, and is currently President of the Society for Popular Astronomy.

The image (courtesy of M. de la Nougerede, UCL-MSSL) shows Andrew holding the Engineering Model of the Rosalind Franklin PanCam instrument, which we hope will look for past life on Mars later in the 2020s.