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  2. Dr Axel Hagermann

Dr Axel Hagermann

Profile summary

  • Visiting Informal Academic
  • Visiting Fellow
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Physical Sciences
  • axel.hagermann

Professional biography


2011-2013:  Lecturer, DPS, The Open University
2007-2010:      Aurora Academic Fellow, PSSRI, The Open University
Jan-Mar 2010: Visiting Associate Professor, JAXA ISAS, Japan
2002-2003:      Rosetta Radio Science Experiment Manager, Institut für Geophysik und Meteorologie, Universität zu Köln, Germany
2000-2002:     JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ISAS (now JAXA) Japan, supported by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
1996-2000:     Research associate/assistant, Institut für Planetologie, Münster University


Research interests

  • Energy and mass transfer on planetary surfaces
    • Cometary and planetary near-surface processes
    • Small scale interaction of planetary surfaces and atmospheres
    • Lunar and planetary surface heat flow (and ways of measuring it)
  • Titan surface and atmospheric properties
  • Methodology of instruments, measurements and data analysis, multi-sensor fusion
  • Applied inverse theory

    Physics of the martian polar caps

    Planetary heat flow inversion

    Reanalysis of Apollo data

    Teaching interests

    • SMT359 Electromagnetism
    • SXP288 Practical Science: Physics and Astronomy
    • SXR208 Observing the Universe
    • S104 Exploring Science
    • S103 Discovering Science
    • S176 Living without Oil
    • S196 Planets: an Introduction

    Research Activity

    Research groups

    NameTypeParent Unit
    Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)CentreFaculty of Science


    Externally funded projects

    Mars' past climate and current heat flow

    RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
    Lead01/Oct/201730/Sep/2020UKSA UK Space Agency
    Response to the UKSA's 2016 Aurora Science call

    Planetary Science at the Open University 2017-2020

    RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
    Co-investigator01/Apr/201731/Aug/2020STFC Science & Technology Facilities Council
    Our proposed research programme addresses the origin and evolution of the Solar System, including surfaces, atmospheres and physical, geological, chemical and biological processes on the terrestrial planets, the Moon, asteroids, comets, icy satellites and extraterrestrial materials, in a range of projects which address the STFC Science Roadmap challenge B: “How do stars and planetary systems develop and is life unique to our planet?” The inner rocky bodies of the Solar System are of particular importance in understanding planetary system evolution, because of their common origin but subsequent divergent histories. Lunar samples will be used to determine the abundance and composition of volatile elements on the Moon, their source(s) in the lunar interior, and processes influencing their evolution over lunar geological history. Oxygen isotope analysis will be used to determine the conditions and processes that shape the formation of materials during the earliest stages of Solar System formation. Mars is the focus of international Solar System exploration programmes, with the ultimate aim of Mars Sample Return. We will: investigate the martian water cycle on global and local scales through a synthesis of atmospheric modeling, space mission data and surface geology; assess potential changes in the composition of Mars’ atmosphere over time through measurement of tracers trapped in martian meteorites of different ages; and determine whether carbon dioxide, rather than water flow, is able to account for recently active surface features on Mars. Mercury is an end-member in the planet-formation spectrum and we plan to exploit NASA MESSENGER data to study its origin and crustal evolution, and prepare for ESA’s BepiColombo mission. The cold outer regions of the Solar System, and particularly comets, are believed to have retained some of the most pristine primitive material from their formation. We plan to probe the composition and origins of cometary material and understand the processes that drive cometary activity through: laboratory analysis of the most primitive Interplanetary Dust Particles; and direct measurements of a comet by our instruments on the Rosetta mission, together with laboratory simulations. We will conduct laboratory ultraviolet observations of irradiated ices to provide new insights into the composition of Solar System ices and how they may create atmospheres around their parent bodies. We will also investigate the role volatiles can play in the cohesion (“making”) of Solar System minor bodies, and the fragmentation that can be achieved by thermal cycling (a candidate process that “breaks” them). The question of whether Earth is a unique location for life in the Solar System remains one of the most enduring questions of our time. We plan to investigate how the geochemistry of potentially habitable environments on Mars, Europa and Enceladus would change over geological timescales if life was present, producing distinguishable biomarkers that could be used as evidence of life in the Solar System. We will study the role of hypervelocity impacts in: the processing of compounds of critical interest to habitability (water, sulfur-species, organic species) during crater formation; and the hydrothermal system of the 100 km diameter Manicouagan impact structure in Canada to assess the astrobiological implications of hydrothermal systems for early Mars. In addition to satisfying humanity’s innate desire to explore and understand the Universe around us, our research has more tangible benefits. We use the analytical techniques involved from development of space and laboratory instrumentation for applications with companies in fields as diverse as medicine, security, tourism and cosmetics. One of the most important benefits of our research is that it helps to train and inspire students - the next generation of scientists and engineers – through training within the University and public outreach and schools programmes.

    Multi-instrument analysis of Rosetta data - Establishing a new paradigm for cometary activity and composition

    RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
    Co-investigator29/Feb/201631/Aug/2018EC (European Commission): FP(inc.Horizon2020, H2020, ERC)
    A multi-disciplinary, pan-European project to consider the implications of the results from the Rosetta space mission.

    STFC DTG 2015 - 2016 (2015 Intake)

    RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
    Co-investigator01/Oct/201530/Sep/2020STFC Science & Technology Facilities Council
    STFC DTG Quota 2015-16 AMS record for students starting on or after 01/10/2015

    Astronomy and Planetary Sciences at the Open University

    RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
    Co-investigator01/Apr/201431/Mar/2017STFC Science & Technology Facilities Council
    The aim of our programme in Astronomy & Planetary Science at the Open University (APSOU) is to carryout detailed investigations of the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars and planets with a special emphasis on our own Solar System through a combination of observation, simulation, laboratory analysis and theoretical modelling. Our research is divided into two broad areas, reflecting the historical research strengths. This research programme is well-matched to both nationally- and internationally-agreed research imperatives. In its final report, A Science Vision for European Astronomy2, Astronet’s Science Working Group identified four broad areas of strategic importance; our research covers major topics within each of these areas. APSOU projects also map onto two of the four Science Challenges that form STFC’s Road Map3 for science (‘How did the universe begin and how is it evolving?’ and ‘How do stars and planetary systems develop and is life unique to our planet?’). The present APSOU programme comprises 20 projects (labelled A to T), of which 6 are for consideration by the Astronomy Observation (AO) panel, 1 for Astronomy Theory (AT), and 13 for the Planetary Studies (PL) panel. The AO projects cover the breadth of the 7 themes recognised as UK strengths in the report of STFC’s Astronomy Advisory Panel (AAP), whilst the 13 PL projects are directed towards answering questions raised in two of the three themes identified as UK strengths in the roadmap of STFC’s Solar System Advisory Panel (SSAP)4.

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