Helen E. Mason


Who I am ?
  • Assistant Director of Research at DAMTP
  • Fellow and Senior Tutor at St Edmund's College (link)

    I am a member of staff at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. I have been based at Cambridge for 30 years, but was trained at the University of London.

    Research interests
  • Atomic and Solar Physics: UV and X-ray Spectroscopic Diagnostics

    My field of research is solar physics, in particular the ultraviolet and X-ray spectrum of the Sun. I have worked on many space projects including Skylab's Apollo Telescope Mount, the Solar Maximum Mission satellite and SoHO, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (link), an ESA and NASA space project, which was launched in December 1995 and is still operational. The observations from SOHO have completely changed our view of the Sun.

    Most recently I have been working on observations made with the EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) (link) on the Hinode (link) satellite (a joint UK/NASA/ESA/Japanese project). Hinode was launched in September 2006 and is providing some fascinating new insights into the nature of the solar atmosphere.

    My background is in atomic physics, and I was fortunate to be supervised by Prof Mike Seaton at University College, London. My doctoral research involved the analysis of solar eclipse observations; a study of the coronal forbidden lines.
    I am a founder member of the CHIANTI (link) team. Chianti is an atomic data package for the analysis of astrophysical plasmas. I am a member of the UK APAP (link) team (Atomic Processes for Astrophysical Plasmas) which provides state-of-the-art atomic data. <\dd>

    Recently I have been participating in some international collaborative teams focussed on the study of coronal heating. The ISSI team (link) has been led by Susanna Parenti. The Coronal Loops (link) meetings are scheduled every two years, the most recent venue being Florence, with an opportunity to visit Galileo Galileiăs house in Arcetri.

    Other interests
    I am keen to convey my interest and excitement in solar physics to the general public and to school children. I have written several articles and participated in radio and TV programmes. I am leading the Sun|trek project, a website for schools (10-16 year olds) about the Sun and its effects on the Earthăs environment.
    I give talks to schools and at other venues, most recently at some summer music festivals. I am particularly interested in working with school students in developing countries, and have worked in Africa and India.