Professor Emma Bunce

Head of School, Physics and Astronomy; Professor of Planetary Plasma Physics

Emma Bunce

School/Department: Physics and Astronomy, School of


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Professor Emma Bunce is Head of School, Physics and Astronomy and is President of the Royal Astronomical Society. She is also lead PI for the Mercury Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer (MIXS) instrument on board ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission – this instrument will provide us with high quality, never seen before X-ray images of Mercury.  

Her main research interests have focused on the giant rotating magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, with a particular desire to explore and understand the mechanisms which generate the dynamic auroral emissions in their upper atmospheres.  

Our involvement in the NASA Juno mission provides an excellent opportunity to explore the polar magnetosphere Jupiter, and we continued to study Saturn’s magnetosphere up to the end of the NASA Cassini mission in 2017. Emma is part of the Juno Magnetosphere Working Group, and was a Co-Investigator on the UK-led Cassini magnetometer team (PI Professor Michele Dougherty).  

In addition, Emma and the team have begun to investigate Mercury’s magnetosphere which will contribute to the future exploitation of the Leicester-led Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer instrument which is part of the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) payload (arriving at Mercury in 2025). Emma is the Principal Investigator of the MIXS instrument. Emma is also a Co-Investigator on the sister SIXS instrument on the same mission (PI Juhani Huovelin)  

Emma acted as the Deputy Lead Scientist for the Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter proposal to ESA under the L-Class mission competition, which was selected as the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission in 2012. The mission is due to launch in 2022 to arrive at Jupiter and Ganymede in 2030.  

She is Co-Investigator on the Imperial College (PI Professor Michele Dougherty) JUICE magnetometer, and the JUICE UVS instrument (PI Randy Gladstone, SWRi).  


My main research interests have focused on the giant rotating magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, with a particular desire to explore and understand the mechanisms which generate the dynamic auroral emissions in their upper atmospheres. 


Nichols, J.D., Yeoman, T.K., Bunce E.J., Chowdhury, M.N., Cowley, S.W.H., and Robinson, T.R. (2017), Periodic emission within Jupiter’s main auroral oval, Geophys. Res. Lett., Volume: 44  Issue: 18  Pages: 9192-9198, doi: 10.1002/2017GL074824

James, M.K., E.J. Bunce, T.K. Yeoman, S.M. Imber, M. Lockwood, M.J. Owens, and J.A. Slavin, (2017), Interplanetary magnetic field properties and timescales near Mercury’s orbit, J. Geophys. Res., Volume: 122  Issue: 8  Pages: 7907-7924, doi: 10.1002/2017JA024435.

G. Clark, B.H. Mauk, D. Haggerty, C. Paranicas, P. Kollmann, A. Rymer, E.J. Bunce, S.W.H. Cowley, D.G. Mitchell, G. Provan, R.W. Ebert, F. Allegrini, F. Bagenal, S. Bolton, J. Connerney, S. Kotsiaros, W.S. Kurth, S. Levin, D.J. McComas, J. Saur, P. Valek, (2017) Energetic particle signatures of magnetic field-aligned potentials over Jupiter’s polar cap regions, Geophys. Res. Lett., Volume: 44, issue: 17, Pages 8703-8711, doi: 10.1002/2017GL074366.

Nichols, J.D., S.V. Badman, F. Bagenal, S.J. Bolton, B. Bonfond, E.J. Bunce, J.T. Clarke, J.E.P. Connerney, S.W.H. Cowley, R.W. Ebert, M. Fujimoto, J.-C. Gérard, G.R. Gladstone, D. Gordent, T. Kimura, W.S. Kurth, B.H. Mauk, G. Murakami, D.J. McComas, G.S. Orton, A.Radioti, T.S. Stallard, C.Tao, P.W. Valek, R.J. Wilson, A. Yamazaki, I. Yoshikawa (2017), Response of Jupiter’s auroras to conditions in the interplanetary medium as measured by the Hubble Space Telescope and Juno, Geophys. Res. Lett. [Juno special issue], Volume: 44, Issue: 15, Pages: 7643-7652, doi: 10.1002/2017GL073029.

Cowley, S.W.H., G.Provan, E.J. Bunce, and J.D. Nichols (2017), Magnetosphere-Ionosphere coupling at Jupiter: Expectations for Juno Perijove 1 from a steady-state axisymmetric physical model, Geophys. Res. Lett. [Juno special issue], Volume: 44, Issue: 10  Pages: 4497-4505, doi: 10.1002/2017GL073129.

Kinrade, J., S.V. Badman, E. J. Bunce, C. Tao, G. Provan, S. W. H. Cowley, A. Grocott, R. L. Gray, D. Grodent, T. Kimura, J. D. Nichols, C. S. Arridge, A. Radioti, J. T. Clarke, F. J. Crary, W. R. Pryor, H. Melin, K. H. Baines, and M. K. Dougherty (2017), An Isolated Bright Cusp Aurora at Saturn, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 122, doi: 10.1002/2016JA023792..

Lockwood, M., M.J. Owens, S.M. Imber, M.K. James, E.J. Bunce, and T.K. Yeoman (2017), Magnetic flux circulation in the solar corona and the heliosphere and the variation in the open solar flux, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 122, doi:10.1002/2016JA023644.

Sergis, N., D.G. Mitchell, J.F. Carbary, X. Jia, S.M. Krimigis, E.J Bunce, and S.W.H. Cowley (2017), The Ring Current of Saturn, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., published.

Hunt G.J., S.W.H. Cowley, G. Provan, E.J. Bunce, I.I. Alexeev, E.S. Belenkaya, V.V. Kalegaev, M.K. Dougherty, and A.J Coates (2016), Field-aligned currents in Saturn’s magnetosphere: Local time dependence of southern summer currents in the dawn sector between midnight and noon, J. Geophys. Res., 121, 7785-7804, doi:10.1002/2016JA022712.

James, M.K., E.J. Bunce, T.K. Yeoman, S.M. Imber and H. Korth (2016), A statistical survey of Ultra Low Frequency wave power and polarisation in the Hermean magnetosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 121, 8755-8772, doi:10.1002/2016JA023103.


In the 2019/20 academic year I delivered the following modules:

  • 3rd Year Research Project supervisor (PA 3900)
  • 4th Year Specialist Research Project supervisor (PA4900)
  • 4th Year Literature Review Project supervisor (PA4440)


2020 to present - President of the Royal Astronomical Society

2014 to present - Appointed as the University's Trustee for the National Space Centre

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