Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - SPARTAN (Centre of Excellence for Space, Planetary and Astrophysics Research Training and Networking)

The SPARTAN project in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the University of Leicester, United Kingdom (UK), created a centre of excellence in training of early stage researchers in space, planetary and astrophysical sciences. The SPARTAN project provided eight fellowships leading to PhD degrees and supported twelve short-term fellowships and three visits lasting between three to six months for early stage researches from other, non-UK, academic institutions.

Research projects undertaken by SPARTAN fellows concerned various scientific topics which were investigated by research groups within the department. In the X-ray and observational astronomy group the examined topics were:
1. high-energy observations of accreting binary systems;
2. wide field time domain astrophysics with wide angle search of planets (WASP);
3. active galactic nuclei;
4. investigation of slew sources in the X-ray multi-mirror (XMM)-Newton slew survey source catalogue (XMMSL1);
5. scientific exploitation of the 2XMM catalogue;
6. multi-wavelength analysis of gamma-ray bursts.

The topics that were investigated in the Space Research Centre concerned multi-angular laboratory measurements and simulations of the regolith effects in planetary soft X-ray spectroscopy.

The radio and space plasma physics group examined the following:
1. effects of changes in the Earth's magnetic field on the ionosphere;
2. solar and geomagnetic activity dependence of changes caused by changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) and ozone concentration;
3. active experiments using Spectroscopy of plasma evolution from astrophysical radiation (SPEAR), CLUSTER and ESR;
4. martian plasma environment;
5. Pi2 magnetospheric pulsations observed at middle and high latitudes;
6. ionospheric structure of Titan;
7. active heating experiments in D-region ionosphere;
8. effect of geomagnetic storms on super dual auroral radar network (SuperDARN) backscatter;
9. comparison of SuperDARN and European incoherent scatter (EISCAT) ionospheric velocities;
10. optical observations of transient luminous events.

The theoretical astronomy group was concerned with the following issues:
1. modelling local group galaxies;
2. the nature of accretion in RS Ophiuchi;
3. tidal truncation of protostellar discs in counter-rotating binaries.

Finally, the Earth observation science group studied carbon monoxide (CO) in the troposphere using satellite remote sensing.

The results achieved in the research projects were reported in 35 scientific articles submitted to scientific journals and conference proceedings. By the time of the project completion, 31 of these articles were published or accepted and 5 more were in preparation. The results were also presented at conferences, workshops and meetings in 27 oral presentations and 30 posters.

In addition to research training, SPARTAN fellows benefited from specific courses via the departmental training programs as well as from seminar programmes and group meetings organised in every research group in the department. A special training program called SPARTAN 'Sprite-watch' was organised to develop fellows' skills in team working, experiment development and planning, management, coordination, education and outreach. This programme also had scientific outcome, i.e. the first optical observations of atmospheric transient luminous events from Poland. Through the programme, collaborations were developed between Leicester and academic institutions from over Europe (in Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Turkey, Ireland, Poland) and beyond (Canada, United States, Japan, India).

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