IAGA symposium

See IAGA Symposium A08.1 on ‘New Techniques and Instrumentation in Space Plasma Physics’ at IUGG General Assembly, 28 June-7 July, 2011, Melbourne, Australia


17th SPINE meeting

17th SPINE Meeting – Computational tools for electrostatic cleanliness and space instrument accommodation analysis – 17-19 January 2011, Uppsala University, Uppsala Sweden

Attendees data

Computational tools for electrostatic cleanliness and space instrument accommodation analysis: Workshop and call for inputs

SPIS, the Spacecraft-Plasma Interactions System, is an open source software for spacecraft-plasma interaction simulations, developed and maintained by the Spacecraft Plasma Interaction Network (SPINE) and freely available at In recent years, SPIS has been used for simulation of particles and field instruments on spacecraft, e.g. to meet the scientific needs for increased accuracy of measurements of low-energy ions and electrons and electric fields. This use is expected to increase as new space missions are upcoming or proposed, for example Bepi Colombo, Solar Orbiter and the Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter. To help in this process, ESA is funding an upgrade of SPIS to meet such needs by 2012. Community input is essential to ensure that the upgrade will concentrate on the features most needed. You are therefore invited to:

  • Contribute to the inputs for the SPIS development by stating your needs, ideas and wishes
  • Participate in a SPINE workshop on these matters

Talks, Data and presentations of meeting


The requirements for the coming SPIS upgrade based on user community inputs will be discussed at a SPINE meeting hosted by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics on the premises of Uppsala University, in Uppsala, Sweden, 17-19 January 2011 (conveniently close to Stockholm Arlanda airport, see details on web page below). The first part of the meeting will cover presentations of the cosmic vision missions, presentation of the SPIS software capability and of some key applications to scientific observations. The second part of the meeting will include presentations from the scientific community and discussion of the requirements. Meeting details are available at

Invitation and call for contribution

Research groups intending, proposing or designing plasma and field instruments for future European space missions or involved in data interpretation are hereby invited to submit their inputs, and to attend the SPINE workshop for discussions on the SPIS upgrade.

Key topics to be addressed include:

  • What problems related to spacecraft, plasma and electrostatic environment are expected for future European missions?
  • What simulations will be needed?
  • What capabilities and performance of simulation tools will be needed?
  • What are the current limitations in the existing simulation tools and especially SPIS?

Please send your inputs as well as indicate your willingness to participate to the meeting and whether you plan to present some material (relevant to the above themes) by sending an email to

The detailed agenda will be communicated later based on proposed contributions from participants.

Please forward this announcement to any person you think might be interested.

Practical information

  • 10 Dec 2010: Please indicate your interest to participate in this process and in the meeting
  • 7 Jan 2011: Input and meeting presentation submission, meeting registration
  • 17-19 Jan 2011: Meeting of the Spacecraft-Plasma Interactions Network in Europe (SPINE), in Uppsala, Sweden. The meeting will start at 13:00 in Monday, Jan 17, and end at noon on Wednesday, Jan 19.

Uppsala, Sweden. The meeting will be held in Museum Gustavianum, the old main building of Uppsala University, right opposite the main entrance to Uppsala Cathedral. See


All hotels in the city centre are within walking distance. Closest (and very nice) are:


Stockholm-Arlanda airport is 18 minutes by train from Uppsala. Trains normally run every 30 minutes. Taxi Arlanda-Uppsala costs SEK 450-460 SEK (around EUR 50) with the two main local taxi companies (be sure to get a fixed price!). The city centre is small, and the meeting as well as most hotels are within 15 minutes walk from the station. Renting a car is therefore not recommended, as you will hardly need it but will have to spend time and money parking it.


Participation in the meeting is free of charge.

Workshop sponsors

Artenum, CESR, ESA, IRF Uppsala, ONERA


16th SPINE meeting

16th SPINE Meeting


This meeting will be mainly targeted to the identification of requirements for new R&D activities in the area of spacecraft plasma interactions.

The first half day will be devoted to the presentation of new results as well as ideas and concepts and current plans of Agencies and industry R&D activities. The second half day will be a round table to exchange ideas on the requirements for new R&D activities.

Participation to the meeting is free of charge and open to all organisations from ESA member states but require by sending an email to: Alain Hilgers at esa dot int .


16th SPINE Meeting 23 March 2010 Room B0154, ESA HQ, 8-10 rue Mario Nikis, 75015 Paris, France


15th SPINE meeting

15th SPINE Meeting on the 28th and 29th of September 2009 at ONERA, Toulouse, France.



Particular themes are:

  • SPIS developments and validation
  • Plasma instruments and in-flight demonstrations.


There are, in various stages of execution and planning, various studies that use and update the SPIS simulation software. This is extending the capability of the code and it is important that the community is kept informed of these changes. At the same time, the validation of the code is becoming more critical as the range of applications increases.

Plasma instruments are being flown and are planned for a number of scientific missions, including Cosmic Vision candidates. In addition, ESA’s SSA (Space Situational Awareness)programme includes the definition of plasma instruments for future Space Weather Monitoring. Such monitors need to consume few spacecraft resources but be well qualified. Novel space plasma technologies for generation of thrust and/or power, such as tethers, are also at the stage where in-flight testing is required. Hence there is a need to consider possible flight opportunities for instrument testing and technology demonstration.


14th SPINE meeting

14th SPINE Meeting to prepare modelling capabilities in support of plasma instruments for Cosmic Vision

Access to presentations


Spacecraft plasma interactions (especially spacecraft charging and contamination by secondary particles) can strongly perturb plasma and particle measurements in space. Therefore, modelling these interaction is important for optimising the design of plasma instruments and their location on the platform and for the scientific exploitation of the data because .

Cross-scale, Laplace, Tandem and other Cosmic Vision missions are planned to include plasma payloads to investigate the magnetospheres of Earth, Jupiter and Saturn and other solar system plasmas. Electrostatic cleanliness of such scientific spacecraft for correct functioning of plasma measuring payloads requires limiting electrostatic potential perturbations and interference from spacecraft-generated charged particles (e.g. secondary/photo electrons and sputtered ions). This leads to a requirement for low spacecraft potential (typically ~1V), well below the energy of particles being detected, and for spacecraft-induced fluxes well below ambient levels. Control and mitigation of spacecraft perturbation of plasma/field sensors is possible through charge alleviation devices, grounding, material selection and siting of detectors.

The European Space Agency has sponsored modelling activities to address these issues. The open source spacecraft-plasma interaction simulation tool, SPIS, might currently lack the required accuracy. Increasing the accuracy to the required level requires significant physics, algorithm and software developments, possibly including better modelling of secondary/photo/sputter emission, better shadowing, control of convergence, optimisation of number of particles per cell and improved trajectory accuracy. SPIS simulation toolkit has been conceived with a modular approach such that extension of the capabilities and functionalities can be performed without reengineering the whole software.r


The meeting will take place on 13-14 November in Room Na213 at ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

Participation to the meeting is free of charge.

Please indicate your willingness to participate to the meeting and whether you plan to present some materials relevant to the meeting topics:

  • spacecraft plasma interactions effects on scientific instruments
  • onboard calibration of plasma instruments
  • modelling requirements for plasma instruments
  • current capabilities in modelling spacecraft plasma interactions

Preliminary programme

Publications with review committee

Modeling of Plasma Probe Interactions With a PIC Code Using an Unstructured Mesh

Hilgers, A., S. Clucas, B. Thiébault, J.-F.s Roussel, J.-C. Matéo-Vélez, J. Forest, and D. Rodgers, Modeling of Plasma Probe Interactions With a PIC Code Using an Unstructured Mesh, IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci, Vol 36, No5 Part2, pp 2319-2323, DOI: 10.1109/TPS.2008.2003360, Oct 2008.

Publications with review committee

SPIS modelling capabilities, achievements and prospects

Roussel, J.-F., Rogier F., Dufour G., Matéo-Vélez J.-C., Forest J., Hilgers A., Rodgers D., Girard L., and D. Payan, SPIS modelling capabilities, achievements and prospects, IEEE Trans. Plasma Science, Vol 18, No5, Oct 2008.

Publications with review committee

Electron density estimations derived from spacecraft potential measurements on Cluster in tenuous plasma regions

Pedersen, A., B. Lybekk, M. André, A. Eriksson, P.-A. Lindqvist F. Mozer, P. M. E. Décréau, A. Masson, H. Laakso, H. Rème, J.-A. Sauvaud, A. Fazakerley, K. Svenes, G. Paschmann, K. Torkar and E. Whipple, Electron density estimations derived from spacecraft potential measurements on Cluster in tenuous plasma regions, J. Geophys. Res., in press, 2008, doi:10.1029/2007JA012636


13th SPINE meeting

The 13th SPINE meeting dedicated on measurement requirements for spacecraft plasma interaction effects analysis, will be held on 28-29 May, at ESA-ESTEC, The Netherlands.

Attendees data


12th SPINE meeting

12th SPINE Meeting on the 7th of February 2008.

Attendees | Attendees data


This meeting will focus on the utilisation of the SPIS software and the analysis of the requirements for its maintenance and evolution.


Escape Dance Room, ESTEC, The Netherlands


All SPIS users are invited to attend the meeting and to submit the title of their presentation dealing with the utilisation of SPIS.

Please send an email as early as possible to indicate whether you are planning to attend and with a preliminary title of your presentation.

SPIS users not able to attend this meeting are also welcome to send their comments, suggestions and requirements related to future SPIS developments and evolution.

Preliminary Agenda

  • Welcome (A. Hilgers)
  • Plasma-physics-related activities at ESA Advanced Concepts Team (C. Bombardelli)
  • Review of SPIS modelling activitie at ONERA (J.-F. Roussel)
  • Coffee Break
  • Review of SPIS modelling activitie at ESA (D. Rodgers / S. Clucas)
  • 3D effects on current to a highly positive, rocket-borne boom with non-convex cross section (J. Sanmartin)
  • Neutralizer Plume Model (Appliction to FEEP thrusters) (A. Passaro)
  • Modelling requirements for a GEO experiment (B. Andersson)
  • SPIS Modelling of differential biasing and sheath effects on DEMETER’s ICE measurements (R. Marchand)

Lunch Break

  • SPIS software status (J.-F. Roussel)
  • SCOS project and User interface (J. Forest)
  • Maintenance requirements (A. Hilgers)
  • Modelling requirements (D. Rodgers)
  • Software requirements (S. Clucas)
  • SPIS governance (A. Hilgers)
  • ESA R&D plans (D. Rodgers)
  • Other SPINE members development plans and synthesis (A. Hilgers)