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Doctoral Network in Space Sciences (PhD::SPACE)

Principal Investigator
Mário J. P. F. G. Monteiro

This PhD::SPACE doctoral network provides an opportunity for advanced training of the next generation of Astronomers under a truly international approach. The PhD::SPACE program will be organized to support a clear strategy of internationalization, with focus on the forthcoming major international projects in space sciences and technology, including the techniques and methodologies that support the development and full scientific exploitation of those facilities. In order for Portugal to benefit from the investment done in the participation in international organizations, such as ESO and ESA, we need that this strategic view be implemented in close collaboration with the industry and supported in strong active international collaborations. Effectively, the main objective of this PhD::SPACE initiative is to train future astronomers and prepare a new generation of researchers able to work on space sciences and technology leading projects, fulfilling the goals set by the european commission for space (Horizon 2020). Due to the increasingly technological component of the recent astronomy projects, the PhD:SPACE program also aims at attracting students with a diversified background, namely in technology and engineering, systems and control, or informatics, amongst other areas. For these students, an effort will be made to explore synergies through activities including procurement from the portuguese industry.

The Astronomy projects being developed at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), of which Portugal is a member, cover areas almost unexplored by science, such as the sub-millimeter with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) and the search for exoplanets with ESPRESSO. In addition, the current and future missions of the European Space Agency (ESA, of which Portugal is also a member), namely Venus Express, Herschel, Planck, Gaia, Solar Orbiter, Euclid, JUICE and James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will further add to the challenges and visibility of Astronomy.

New domains will be open to observation. In parallel, innovative diagnostic tools and techniques are being integrated, as well as new ways of accessing and operating the facilities. The large telescopes in operation, and the ones under construction or being designed, such as the European-Extreme Large Telescope (E-ELT), real data collecting machines, require innovative technologies (adaptive optics, for example), complex systems and techniques for the data handling, processing and analysis as well as new attitudes in the way astronomers access their own data. Further to that the use of the "Virtual Observatories", built upon various data bases, which include data from ground and space observations, also add new challenges and opportunities. Consequently, the role of Space Sciences, and Astronomy and Astrophysics in particular, as a privileged area for multidisciplinary training, across various fields of science and technology, shines out clearly.

The adequate training of the future astronomers and researchers, from a wide range of backgrounds, becomes even more challenging in order to fully prepare them in those new wide fields. Also, it is mandatory to expose and involve those young researchers, right from the beginning of their training, to international collaboration and participation in multinational and multidisciplinary teams.

During this program, and besides the formal training in Astronomy, particular attention is also given to the development of special/complementary competencies. These will enable the students to address complex problems without a unique solution, or face new situations, or wider contexts which involve a multidisciplinary approach and a close dependence on observational data, instrumentation, mathematics and modeling techniques, data processing and analysis. The aim is to provide effective training in dealing with complex questions, searching for solutions and taking decisions in situations of limited or incomplete information involving the need to critically evaluate the adequacy of the results. The broad range of training activities, addressing personal communication skills (language, writing, and presentation) performed in an international and collaborative environment will be an asset for any of the students to be integrated in this network.

The training received by the students will prepare them for a life-long career in a wide range of positions such as researchers/teachers in academic institutions, leaders and managers of research teams in national or international organizations active in space sciences and technologies, computer and data analysis experts in private companies supporting business in the space industry, government agencies, managers in high-tech companies, public outreach experts, etc. PhD::SPACE offers unique and exciting opportunities for further training and prospects for a successful career in space sciences and technologies.

Institutions involved in the project

- Universidade do Porto (UP)
- Universidade de Lisboa (UL)
- Centro de Astrofísica (CAUP/UP)
- Centro de Astronomia e Astrofísica (CAA/FC/UL)

Project website

1 October 2013
31 December 2020

Funding Institution
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia

Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia