Space and Atmospheric Sciences Division

  Chairperson: Prof. D. Pallamraju


The research activities in the Space and Atmospheric Sciences (SPA-SC) Division are aimed at understanding the radiative, chemical, ionization, and dynamical processes in the Earth's atmosphere and near-Earth space environment by employing state-of-the-art and in-house built rocket-, balloon, and ground-based experiments, optical and radio probing techniques, laboratory experiments along with theoretical simulation, numerical modelling, artificial intelligence/machine learning tools. The current research foci of the Division include Sun-Earth interactions, space weather and its effect on societal applications, coupling, energetics and dynamics of atmospheric regions, investigations of solar disturbances/geomagnetic storms, global-scale atmospheric circulation, characterization of aerosols and their impact on Earth’s radiation budget, studies of trace gases, volatile organic compounds and their effects on the atmosphere, cloud and boundary layer dynamics, and global warming/ climate change.  Opportunities also exist for use of data from the experiments of upcoming Indian space missions like Aditya-L1, dual-aeronomy satellite mission DISHA (Disturbed and quiet time Ionosphere-thermosphere System at High Altitudes), and missions to Venus/Mars.

Broad Research Areas

Space Physics:

Under the broader area of space physics, the SPASC division is involved in the investigations of solar terrestrial interactions, solar effects on the interplanetary medium, earth’s magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere interactions, space weather and its effects on societal applications, mesosphere-lower thermosphere dynamics, building of ground- and space-based optical and radio instruments. The Division is gearing up to play an important role in the forthcoming Indian satellite programs, namely, Aditya-L1 mission, the dual satellite Aeronomy mission, DISHA, and missions to Venus/Mars, wherein PRL is the Science lead of ISRO’s DISHA mission.

 Various space-based payloads are getting ready, namely, Aditya Solar wind Particle EXperiment (ASPEX) for Aditya-L1 mission, Langmuir Probe (LP), Drift Meter (DM) and Airglow photometer (AP) for DISHA mission and Narrow-band Airglow emissions for Venusian Atmosphere (NAVA) for Venus mission. These space-based measurements will open up unprecedented opportunities to pursue cutting-edge science that is at the forefront of global research.

SPA-SC faculty are playing lead roles in major international programs such as the PRESTO (Predictability of the Variable Solar-Terrestrial Coupling) of the Scientific Committee on Solar -Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP).

Atmospheric Sciences:

The research in this area pertains to study of physicochemical and radiative processes in the lower atmosphere, tropospheric-stratospheric interactions, and middle-atmospheric dynamics, wherein high quality and outstanding research with focus on characterisation of atmospheric aerosols, their spatial and temporal variations, their linkages with physical, chemical and dynamical process and their impact on environment, radiation budget, radiative forcing and climate are conducted through state-of-the-art   observations and modelling studies, in addition to measurement and modelling of ozone, volatile organic compounds and other trace gases, cloud characteristics and boundary layer dynamics. SPA-SC faculty lead several projects of ISRO, namely, the Atmospheric Trace Gases-Chemistry, Transport, and Modelling (AT-CTM), Indian Lidar Network (ILIN) under the ISRO Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP), and serve as Principal Investigator in Aerosol Radiative Forcing Over India (ARFI) under the IGBP, and the National Carbonaceous Aerosols Programme (NCAP) Carbonaceous Aerosol Emissions, Source apportionment and Climate impacts (COALESCE) under the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.

The research work in this Division involves dealing with various experimental data obtained through various ground- and space-based experiments and building theoretical framework and simulations to explain and compare the observed results.  

Instrument facilities

 The divisional activities include strong experimental programs in various domains of atmospheric and space sciences utilizing state-of-the-art instruments as follows:   

 Space Physics: 

  • All-sky Imager (ASI)*
  • CCD-based Daytime Airglow Photometer (CDAP)
  • CCD-based Multiwavelength Airglow Photometer (CMAP)
  • CCD-based Photometer for Mesospheric Temperature (CPMT)
  • Digisonde Portable Sounder (DPS-4D) 
  • Fabry-Perot Interferometer (FPI) *
  • GPS/GNSS/IRNSS Receivers
  • High Throughput Imaging Echelle Spectrograph (HiTIES)
  • Mesosphere-Thermosphere Airglow Photometer (MTAP)
  • Multiwavelength Imaging Spectrograph using Echelle grating (MISE)
  • Narrow-band Narrow-field of view photometer (NBNFPM)
  • Near Infrared Imaging Spectrograph (NIRIS)
  • PRL-Airglow Infra-red Spectrometer (PAIRS)
  • Short-wave Infra-Red Imager (SIRI) *                                                                                                                                                                                                          *Under development                       

 Atmospheric Sciences: 

  • Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor
  • Disdrometer
  • Dual wavelength dual Polarization LIDAR 
  • Flame Ionization Detector
  • Gas Chromatographs
  • Greenhouse Gas Analysers
  • Hygroscopic Tandem Differential Mobility Analyzer
  • LIDAR Ceilometer
  • Multichannel Raman LIDAR
  • Multiwavelength Aethalometer
  • Multiwavelength Sun photometer
  • Multiwavelength Radiometer
  • Proton-Transfer-Reaction Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (PTR-TOF-MS)
  • Pyranometer
  • Pyrgeometer
  • Pyrheliometer
  • Rayleigh LIDAR
  • Rocket and balloon borne sensors
  • Single Particle Soot Photometer
  • Surface Trace Gas Analysers
  • Thermal Desorption-Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionization Detector/Mass Spectrometer Detector (TD-GC-FID/MSD)
  • VOC Analysers

 Courses offered to research fellows

Prerequisites: [Background in Physics, Applied Physics, Space Physics, Atmospheric Sciences Climate Science/Climate Change studies]

  • Physical processes in the Earth's atmosphere
  • Solar-terrestrial interactions
  • Atmospheric composition and thermal structure
  • Energetics and coupling of atmospheric layers
  • Aerosols, radiative forcing and climate change
  • Cloud and atmospheric boundary layer dynamics
  • Modelling of Earth's Atmosphere
  • Atmospheric wave dynamics
  • Near Earth environment
  • Ionospheric electrodynamics
  • Space weather science and application
  • Optical and Radio Probing Techniques

 Other Links

  • Centre for Space Science Technology and Education in Asia Pacific (CSSTEAP)

 For more information regarding the divisional activities and queries please contact the Chairperson, Space and Atmospheric Sciences division.