Pat Reiff

Professor Patricia H. Reiff is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and was the founding Director of the Rice Space Institute at Rice University.
Her research focuses on space plasma physics, mostly in the area of magnetospheric physics, “space weather.”  Her research includes study of the aurora borealis, magnetic reconnection, solar wind-magnetosphere coupling (including solar wind control of magnetospheric and ionospheric convection), and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. She received her PhD analyzing data from the CPLEE instrument, part of the Apollo 14 ALSEP (see her memories of Apollo here). She recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of her first AGU talk and her first publication (on the August 1972 solar flares). She is a Co-Investigator for science and E/PO (Education and Public Outreach) on the “Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission” which launched in March 12, 2015. She was the first person to prove, using Dynamics Explorer dual spacecraft data, that the aurora is caused by a mid-altitude electric field. She was a Co-I on the “IMAGE” magnetospheric imaging mission (launched March, 2000), Jim Burch, SWRI, P.I., and was the first to propose radio sounding of the magnetosphere, which that spacecraft included as a key instrument. She was a Co-Investigator on the “Peace” plasma instrument on the ESA “Cluster 2” 4-spacecraft suite which were launched in July and August 2000.
She is instrumental in bringing real-time space weather forecasts and “Space Weather” information to the public. Her “Space Weather” software, which can be found in many fine museums, can be downloaded free from She is a partner in the “NASA Heliophysics Education Activation Team”, and has created immersive educational clips for use in planetarium domes. She recently released a show on “Magnetism” and on Totality! and created eleven educational clips on solar and lunar eclipses. She has more than 12,000 educators on her various email list servers, and has a page dedicated to Apollo information and talks.
She is an avid eclipse educator and is the southwest regional director for the Citizen CATE project. She and Carolyn Sumners of the Houston Museum of Natural Science made a planetarium show on the eclipse called “Totality!” which is free for educators to download. An avowed “eclipse junkie”, the 2024 eclipse will be her 21st time on the Center Line. A video of her safe eclipse techniques can be seen here:

She tweets at “@discoverydome” and “@PatReiff”and has an outreach Facebook persona “Discovery Dome”. She has a Youtube channel that has all her fulldome planetarium shows to view for free. Her educational videos about space science can be found at Her MMS Mascot “Trigger” has his own web page, his own  “Trigger MMS” Facebook page, and twitter feed “@TriggerMMS”. Trigger recently flew on the ISS as part of “CREW 1” with Shannon Walker and has flown on two high altitude ham balloon flights.
She and her husband Thomas Hill have three children (all Rice alumni) and five grandchildren.
smiling woman