Dr Chris Arridge is a space physicist and planetary scientist studying the giant planets of our solar system (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) and how they interact with the Sun and the rest of the Solar System. Dr Arridge is based in the Space Plasma Environment and Radio Science group in the Department of Physics at Lancaster University.
He studied physics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and applied mathematics at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge (at Darwin College) before studying for a doctorate in The Department of Physics at Imperial College London. He studied some of the first data to be returned from the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn and was awarded his PhD in 2007. From 2006 to 2012 he was a postdoctoral researcher at University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory based in the Surrey hills 13 miles from Guildford, and held a Science and Technology Facilities Council Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.
Chris’ work focuses on the space environments surrounding giant planets, also known as their magnetospheres. Although we think of space as a vacuum, the space surrounding the planets is filled with atoms, molecules, and charged particles some of which have come from the planets, their ring systems and moons, and the Sun. His recent work has involved trying to understand how our Sun’s 11-year “Solar Cycle” affects the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, trying to understand the origin of Saturn’s aurorae (also known as the northern lights) and auroral radio emissions, and examining how tiny charged ice grains move near Saturn’s enigmatic moon Enceladus. He is not only involved in the Cassini mission to Saturn, but is also involved in developing missions such as the JUICE to Jupiter and its moon Ganymede, and in trying to get a spacecraft launched to Uranus. Chris’ work is funded by the Royal Society, Science and Technology Facilities Council, the European Space Agency, and NASA.
Chris is active in public engagement and regularly speaks to a wide variety of audiences from schools to astronomical societies and astronomy festivals. He also works directly with young people, supervising summer projects for A-level students through the Nuffield Research Placements and CREST schemes, and visiting schools.
Chris lives near Lancaster and enjoys dancing Rockabilly Jive, Lindy Hop and Balboa, reading, running, triathlons, playing and writing computer games, and cooking and eating very spicy food.