University of Leicester

Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

Leicester, UK

University of Leicester Logo

The University of Leicester (ULEIC) is one of the UK’s leading research and teaching universities. The University was founded as a University College in 1921 and granted a Royal Charter in 1957. It has 19,000 students including more than 10,000 at postgraduate level. There are 42 academic departments and 35 special divisions and centres located in six faculties. The University employs approximately 3,000 staff and has been ranked in the UK’s top twenty universities in 2001 and 2002. It is also in the top 20 for research grant and contract income.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy currently has a full-time academic staff complement of 30 (including 11 Professors) supported by over 100 research, technical and clerical staff. The Department is also host to 230 undergraduate students, following either BSc or MPhys degree courses, and over 40 postgraduate students registered for a higher degree.

The Department has a 40-year track record of internationally renowned academic research which attracts external funding, in the form of research grants and contracts, in excess of £5M per annum. The main Physics building accommodates the Radio & Space Plasma Physics, X-ray and Observational Astronomy, Condensed Matter Physics and Theoretical Astrophysics Groups, as well as national centres for supercomputing, radar sounding and X-ray astronomy.

The purpose built Space Research Centre (SRC) houses the Space Research Group and provides laboratories, clean rooms and other facilities for Instrumentation Research, Earth Observation Science and the Bio-imaging Unit.

The SRC had a major role in the Beagle 2 Mars lander, will provide an instrument of the Bepi-Colombo Mercury mission and is a key player in the ESA Aurora programme for planetary exploration. Current involvement in ExoMars includes the Life Marker Chip (LMC), and focal plane assemblies for both the X-Ray Diffractometer (XRD) and the Raman spectrometer.

Space Research Centre, Dept. Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester

Other planetary work includes the study of samples returned from comets and meteorites from Mars, the Moon and asteroids. Geological expertise is also provided to the European Space Agency (ESA) and other institutions relating to planetary drilling/sampling and robotic exploration. As a partner in PRoViScout, ULEIC will provide expertise in the scientific requirements for robotic geology, mission scenarios, science target classification/evaluation and field testing.


Key Personnel for PRoViScout

Dr. Derek Pullan

Dr. Derek Pullan is a researcher with experience in exploration geology, electronic engineering, software development/programming, planetary instrumentation and science operations planning. He also has wide practical experience using combined imaging, analytical and geotechnical (sampling) instrumentation for in-situ geology. Derek is the founder of the Geological Specimen Archive (GSPARC) and is a science team member on a number of ExoMars instruments including PanCam and the CLose-UP Imager (CLUPI). Related work includes the CREST Autonomous Robot Scientist in which he specified the science requirements, methodologies and scenarios for planetary lab and in-field evaluation of autonomous science operations. Derek was Instrument Manager and Mission Operations Science Planning Manager for Beagle 2 and established the Science Payload Operations Database (SPOD) for the mission.