60 Years Space Physics Research Laboratory

SPRL at 60

Universities and Space Exploration

Speaker Biography

Photo - Tamas GombosiTamas Gombosi
University of Michigan
Professor and Chair, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences
Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering


Ph.D. (Physics) 1974, M.Sc. (Physics) 1970, both from Loránd Eötvös University, Budapest


American Geophysical Union (Fellow); American Physical Society (member); American Astronomical Society (member); Senior Editor, JGR-Space Physics (1992-1997); Over 200 refereed publications and 350 presentations


Elected Member, International Academy of Astronautics; Fellow of the American Geophysical Union; NASA Group Achievement Award (Cassini Orbiter), 1998; Steven S. Attwood Award, 2002; Seven other scientific awards

Scientific Biography

A native of Hungary, Professor Gombosi was educated in theoretical physics. In the mid-1970s he was the first foreign national to do postdoctoral research at the Space Research Institute in Moscow, where he participated in theoretical studies of the solar wind interaction with Venus and in data interpretation of the Venera-9 and Venera-10 Venus orbiters. A few years later he came to the U.S. to participate in theoretical work related to NASA's Venus exploration. In the early 1980s he played a leading role in the planning and implementation of the international VEGA mission to Venus and Halley's comet. In the mid-1980s he permanently moved to the U.S., and in 1987 he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan, where presently he is Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Professor and Chair in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences.

His present research interests include: (i) development a first-principles based, predictive global space weather simulation framework extending from solar photosphere to the terrestrial atmosphere; (ii) physics of the space environments of planets (including Earth) and comets; (iii) theoretical investigations of plasma transport in various regions of the heliosphere; (iv) fundamental kinetic theory of gases and plasmas; and (v) multiscale 3D MHD simulations of solar system plasmas on solution adaptive unstructured grids.

He continues to participate in the exploration of our solar system. He is Interdisciplinary Scientist of the international Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn and its moon, Titan. He is a Co-Investigator of the ROSINA ion-neutral mass spectrometer to be flown on the international ROSETTA mission to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and a Co- Investigator of the IMPACT plasma instrument on NASA's STEREO mission to explore solar storms. He is Principal Investigator of several large interdisciplinary research efforts, including a DoD Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) project to simulate solar storms and a NASA Computational Technologies project to create the Space Weather Simulation Framework for flexible Sun-to-Earth simulations.

His scientific contributions span across many areas of space and planetary physics. Here is an incomplete list of his most important scientific contributions: (i) he was a member of the group that first measured the directional anisotropy of ~1014 eV galactic cosmic rays; (ii) using theoretical calculations and plasma observations by the Venera-9 and -10 Venus orbiters he and his Russian colleagues were the first to establish that during solar minimum conditions energetic electrons originating from the solar wind are responsible for the maintenance of the nighttime ionosphere of Venus; (iii) he played a pioneering role in the development of modern cometary plasma physics; (iv) with the help of his students and colleagues he pioneered the modeling of the complicated physical process controlling the interface region between the comet nucleus and the continuously escaping cometary coma; (v) he lead the international team that developed the first multidimensional numerical model describing the strongly coupled dusty gas flow near cometary nuclei; (vi) he developed the first timedependent model of the terrestrial polar wind that accounted for the dynamics and energetics of the transonic ion outflows from the high-latitude ionosphere; (vii) he derived new transport equations from higher-order velocity moments of the Boltzmann equation using a non-isotropic Gaussian base-function; (viii) he is leading an interdisciplinary group of faculty, students and staff that pioneered the development of a new generation of high-performance 3D MHD codes using solution adaptive grids.


  • W.B. Manchester, T.I. Gombosi, A.J. Ridley, I. Roussev, D.L. De Zeeuw, I.V. Sokolov, K.G. Powell, G. Tóth, Modeling a space weather event from the Sun to the Earth: CME generation and interplanetary propagation, JGR, 109, doi:10.1029/2003JA010150, 2004.
  • T.I. Gombosi, K.G. Powell, D.L. De Zeeuw, C.R. Clauer, K.C. Hansen, W.B. Manchester, A.J. Ridley, I.I. Roussev, I.V. Sokolov, Q.F. Stout, and G. Tóth, Solution Adaptive MHD for Space Plasmas: Sun-to-Earth Simulations, Computing in Science and Engineering, 6, No 2, 14-35, 2004.
  • I.I. Roussev, I.V. Sokolov, T.G. Forbes, T.I. Gombosi, M.A. Lee, J.I. Sakai, A numerical model of a coronal mass ejection: Shock development with implications for the acceleration of GeV protons, ApJ, 605, L73-L76, 2004.
  • T.I. Gombosi, G. Toth, D.L. De Zeeuw, K.C. Hansen, K. Kabin, and K.G. Powell, Semi-relativistic magnetohydrodynamics and physics-based convergence acceleration, J. Comput. Phys., 177, 176, 2002.
  • K.G. Powell, P.L. Roe, T.J. Linde, T.I. Gombosi, and D.L. De Zeeuw, A Solution-Adaptive Upwind Scheme for Ideal Magnetohydrodynamics, J. Comput. Phys., 154, 284, 1999.
  • T.I. Gombosi, Physics of the Space Environment (graduate level textbook), Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • T.I. Gombosi, Gaskinetic Theory (graduate level textbook), Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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