Principal Investigator for EFW
Mats André grew up in the north of Sweden. He studied mathematics and physics at Umeå University, and also at University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. He completed a PhD at Umeå University in 1985 with a thesis on plasma theory and a comparison with satellite data concerning plasma wave generation and wave-particle interactions.
Mats spent the next few years analysing data from the Swedish spacecraft Viking (launched in 1986) and Freja (launched in 1992). One major goal was to understand the plasma physics responsible for the outflow of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere into interplanetary space. It turns out that various plasma waves can energise ions that originate in the atmosphere to speeds exceeding escape velocity. Although still based in Umeå, Mats conducted part of this work during extended stays at the space centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA.
In 2000, Mats moved to Uppsala to become a professor at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. Following the launch of the two pairs of Cluster spacecraft during the summer of 2000, he was also awarded the role of Principal Investigator of the Electric Field and Wave (EFW) instruments on these satellites. "Studying theoretical plasma physics as an undergraduate, I never even considered the possibility of having the main responsibility for instruments in space. Now having had this opportunity for several years, it turns out to be an extremely interesting and rewarding job."
Led by Mats André, the team in Uppsala conducts a range of studies including work on plasma microphysics. Here "micro" may mean layers hundreds of kilometres wide (about an ion gyro-radius), but this is still very small compared to typical distances in the magnetosphere of around one hundred thousand kilometres. One of the main processes investigated is magnetic reconnection. This is a process whereby microscopic plasma processes cause macroscopic changes in magnetic topology so that initially separated plasma regions become magnetically connected. At the boundary between two colliding magnetized plasmas, magnetic field energy is converted to kinetic energy of charged particles. "One of our main interests is in space plasma microphysics. We emphasize processes observable within our Solar System, that are also operational in astrophysical plasmas, and in laboratory and fusion devices."
Mats was a reasonably good middle distance runner at local level in the north of Sweden. He still enjoys sports as a participant and a spectator. He exercises to keep fit, and watches track and field, football and ice hockey. He also enjoys reading, including crime stories of Swedish and foreign authors.