Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Glyn Alexander Collinson

(RESEARCH ASSOCIATE)

 glyn.a.collinson@nasa.gov

 301.286.2511

Org Code: 673

NASA/GSFC
Mail Code: 673
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Employer: CATHOLIC UNIV OF AMERICA

Brief Bio


One of a handful of researchers with a published record of success in the two complimentary fields of Instrument Science and Space Physics. 14+ years of experience developing, designing, & calibrating particle instruments, including for nine flight projects. Principal Investigator for NASA’s “Endurance” Sounding Rocket Mission. Member of Venus Express and MAVEN science teams. Regular publications highlighted in NASA and ESA press releases, by the American Geophysical Union, and in the journal “Nature”.One of a handful of researchers with a published record of success in the two complimentary fields of Instrument Science and Space Physics. 14+ years of experience developing, designing, & calibrating particle instruments, including for nine flight projects. Record of accomplishment of leading and contributing to winning proposals. Principal Investigator for NASA’s “Endurance” Sounding Rocket Mission. Member of Venus Express and MAVEN science teams. Regular publications highlighted in NASA and ESA press releases, by the American Geophysical Union, and in the journal “Nature”.


Research Interests


Principal Investigator, NASA Endurance 2022 Sounding Rocket Mission

Heliophysics: Earth's Ionosphere

  • Leading a rocket mission that will aim to make the first ever measurement of the “ambipolar” electrical field generated by Earth’s ionosphere, which may play an important role in Earth’s habitability and evolution.
  • Instrument scientist and systems engineer for the new technology that will enable Endurance
  • Lead investigator for test-flight of the technology on the DYNAMO-2 rockets (Summer 2021)


Venus Exploration

Solar System: Venus

  • Discovered natural radio emission at Venus during the third flyby of NASA's Parker Solar Probe, confirming that the ionosphere of Venus changes substantially over the solar cycle [Collinson et al., 2021]
  • Discovered that the ionosphere of Venus generates an electric field so powerful that it can drive the escape of Oxygen and all water group ions, and Venus would lose water to space without stripping by the solar wind [Collinson et al., 2016]
  • Probed the impact of a large but slow Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejection on Venus and discovered that even slow and weak ICMEs can cause enormous increases in the outflow of oxygen from unmagnetized planets [Collinson et al, 2015a].
  • Charted the extension of mysterious holes in the ionosphere of Venus out into the tail [Collinson et al, 2014b], discovering them to be caused by magnetic forces coming from the solar wind.
  • Made the first confirmed discovery of Hot Flow Anomolies at Venus, confirming that these are a fundamental mode of interaction between stars and planets. [Collinson et al, 2012b]. A follow up study determined that HFAs are common at Venus and have potentially global consequences [Collinson et al., 2014a]
  • First observation of Short Large Amplitude Magnetic Structures in the foreshock of Venus [Collinson et al, 2012c], suggesting that the mechanism for the formation of quasi-parallel bow shocks is universal.

 


Team member of NASA's MAVEN Mission to Mars

Solar System: Mars

  • Identified Sporadic-E-like Layers and Rifts in the ionosphere of Mars, which at Earth are highly disruptive to radio communication [Collinson et al, 2020]
  • First identification of Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances at a planet besides Earth [Collinson et al, 2019]
  • Searching for the ambipolar electric field at Mars thought to be responsible for Earth's Polar Wind, [Collinson et al, 2015].
  • Confirmed the existence of explosive Hot Flow Anomalies at Mars and identified the disturbances in the solar wind caused by them, which have the potential to cause global impact to the planet, [Collinson et al, 2015b]
  • Participated in an investigation into the impact of an Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejection (ICME) on Mars [Jakosky et al., Science, 2015]

Current Projects


Endurance

Earth's Ionosphere

Rocket mission from Svalbard to attempt to make the first measurement of Earth's ambipolar electric field


MAVEN

Comparative planetology

Exploring physical phenomena in the upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and space around Mars


Venus Express ASPERA-4

Venus

Calibration and analysis of data products


Galileo at Ganymede

Jupiter

Data analysis from the Galileo flybys

Positions/Employment


NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

Oak Ridge - NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center - Code 670

January 2010 - January 2013

 


Forskare

Institutet för rymdfysik - Kiruna, Sweden

March 2013 - July 2013

 


Research Associate

Catholic University of America - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Code 673

September 2013 - Present

 

Education


Ph.D Space and Climate Physics - University College London, UK (2010)

MSci Physics with Industrial Experience - University of Bristol, UK (2005)

Selected Public Outreach


NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Discovers Natural Radio Emission in Venus’ Atmosphere

June 2021 - Present

During a brief swing by Venus, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe detected a natural radio signal that revealed the spacecraft had flown through the planet’s upper atmosphere. This was the first direct measurement of the Venusian atmosphere in nearly 30 years — and it looks quite different from Venus past. A study published today confirms that Venus’ upper atmosphere undergoes puzzling changes over a solar cycle, the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle. This marks the latest clue to untangling how and why Venus and Earth are so different.

https://youtu.be/z5vK6-wuoOE


NASA’s MAVEN Explores Mars to Understand Radio Interference at Earth

March 2020 - March 2020

NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft has discovered “layers” and “rifts” in the electrically charged part of the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere) of Mars. The phenomenon is very common at Earth and causes unpredictable disruptions to radio communications. However, we do not fully understand them because they form at altitudes that are very difficult to explore at Earth. The unexpected discovery by MAVEN shows that Mars is a unique laboratory to explore and better understand this highly disruptive phenomenon.

https://youtu.be/Y6RBFhzjnV4


‘Electric Wind’ Can Strip Earth-like Planets of Oceans, Atmospheres

July 2016 - Present

Venus has an “electric wind” strong enough to remove the components of water from its upper atmosphere, which may have played a significant role in stripping Earth’s twin planet of its oceans, according to new results from ESA’s (European Space Agency) Venus Express mission by NASA-funded researchers.

https://youtu.be/6i4yspmlILY


NASA Research Helps Unravel Mysteries Of The Venusian Atmosphere

October 2014 - October 2014

Underscoring the vast differences between Earth and its neighbor Venus, new research shows a glimpse of giant holes in the electrically charged layer of the Venusian atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The observations point to a more complicated magnetic environment than previously thought – which in turn helps us better understand this neighboring, rocky planet.

https://youtu.be/9MVRMzmwubM