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Research interests

Tom Stallard is a planetary astronomer who utilises a combination of ground-based telescopes and instruments on spacecraft to understand the upper atmospheres and ionospheres of the giant planets. 

This region of the atmosphere is fascinating because, within its thin air, we see the coupling between two grand systems. At the Sun, the driving forces that dominate the upper atmosphere come from beneath. At Earth, it is the Solar Wind outside the planet that forces energy down into the top of the atmosphere. At the giant planets, because the ionosphere collides with the neutral atmosphere, but carries and is carried by currents from the surrounding magnetosphere, these two chaotic, massive systems are forced to interact. By measuring this interaction, we can reveal the complicated nature of giant planet atmospheres, but also better understand this complex interaction in places where the atmosphere or magnetosphere typically dominate.

Beyond this work measuring the upper atmospheres of Giant Planets, he also plays an important role in the development of such missions, from driving the scientific programme before launch, through ongoing mission planning, and the detailed calibration and analysis of this data.

More broadly, he is also interested in understanding the development of life within the universe, as well as exploring how intellegent life might develop in comparison to the Anthropocene on Earth. He also works to understand and improve PhD supervision within Physics.


Tom started his research history completing a PhD in Planetary Astronomy at University College London in 2001. He worked as a research associate there until 2007.

In 2007, he became an RCUK academic fellow at the University of Leicester. In 2012, he was promoted to Associate Professor there and in 2021, he became the College of Science and Engineering Graduate Director of Postgraduate Research.

In 2022, he moved to Northumbria University to become a Professor of Planetary Astronomy in the Solar and Space Physics group.

Education/Academic qualification


31 Jul 200131 Dec 2099

Award Date: 31 Jul 2001


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