Emma J. Bunce
The 2022 David Bates Medal is awarded to Emma J. Bunce for exceptional contributions to the study of the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, mentoring of students and early career scientists, and public outreach activities.
Emma J. Bunce is an internationally recognized leader in space plasma physics. Her current research focus is the magnetospheres of the giant planets, particularly Jupiter and Saturn. She has developed theoretical models and analyzed data from NASA’s Galileo, Cassini and Juno missions, and is expected to play an important role in ESA’s JUICE mission as Deputy PI of the magnetic field investigation and a Co-I on the UV spectrograph. Besides theoretical modeling and data analysis, Emma Bunce took over the responsibility of the development and fabrication of the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer instrument (MIXS) on the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury. The MIXS measurements will reveal the elemental composition of planetary crust. The interpretation of the data will benefit from Emma Bunce’s insights into the instrument and her prior innovative analysis of data from NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury. Emma Bunce has carried out pioneering research on magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling of Jupiter and Saturn, as evidenced from her highly cited publications on the topic. She was amongst the first to investigate Saturn’s ring current and its response to magnetospheric modulation by the solar wind, and Jupiter’s polar X-ray emissions, and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. With her analysis of simultaneous observations of Saturn’s UV aurora with the HST and in situ measurements of currents in the polar magnetosphere by the Cassini spacecraft, Emma Bunce was amongst the first also to show the connection between upward-directed field-aligned currents flowing near the boundary of open and closed field lines and the auroral oval, with important implications for high latitude energetics of Saturn. In addition to her work on the gas giant planets, using data from the MESSENGER spacecraft, Emma Bunce with her research group made global maps of x-ray fluorescence emissions from the surface of Mercury, which clearly showed their magnetic connections to sources in the night-side magnetosphere. Emma Bunce has published more than 150 research articles, and her work is highly cited as is evident from her 6000+ citations.
Emma Bunce is an inspirational leader who has mentored many students and early career scientists. Her appointment as President (Elect) of the Royal Astronomical Society is a testament to her excellence in research, education and leadership abilities. Emma Bunce has given several outreach talks to school children and public to communicate the excitement of science and inspire young people into pursuing studies and careers in scientific fields. In summary, in view of her outstanding research, education and mentoring of doctoral and postdoctoral students, service to the community and public outreach endeavors, Emma J. Bunce is clearly worthy of EGU’s 2022 David Bates Medal for Planetary and Solar System Sciences.